Old photographs are an amazing source of information about the people of the past. Photo restoration can reveal even more as details of homes return to view and previously faded faces become clear once again. A restored image can be full of surprises that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.
Whether you’re researching your family tree, or simply browsing through a treasured box of pictures, here’s a few things to look out for:
What Your Relatives Really Did for a Living
We once worked with a client who was tracing his family history to discover more about a birth family he’d never met. He was told that his grandfather was a lawyer and began following this story. But, one photograph challenged the information to completely change the course of his research.
As we carefully restored the portrait, we discovered that his grandfather clearly didn’t have the hands of a legal professional. These were the rough, worn hands of a man who’d worked the land. This revelation triggered a new investigation and it turned out his grandfather had in fact owned a farm. Without the wonders of high quality photo restoration, he may never have realized that he’d previously been researching the wrong man.
How Your Family Lived Day to Day
From the types of clothes people wore to the furniture they owned, photographs expose a huge amount about society. Because photography would have been relatively expensive, people may be wearing their best clothing for a portrait. Or, they may be engaged in their favorite activity. There’s also a potential goldmine of information in a photograph set at home. Look closely at the background for any pictures hanging on the wall, or items on a mantelpiece. These could be the key to all number of surprising insights into their day to day lives.
People You Didn’t Know Existed
There’s a point in family history research where you feel you’ve got a good idea of the people involved over the years. You map it all out and become confident that you’ve got a full picture of the past. But, then you may find a family portrait from the 1800s and there’s a young girl in it that just doesn’t fit. ‘Who is this mysterious person?’ you’ll ask yourself. Photos don’t give you the answers, but they can often reveal new and exciting avenues to explore further.
What Your Family Were Really Like
Did your great-great aunt enjoy being in the outdoors? Or, was she a book worm? Looking back over old photographs can give you an idea of how people spent their time. You can get a deeper sense of their personalities and what they enjoyed doing depending on the other details in the image. Consider how they’ve decided to present themselves, or what possessions they have around them. Perhaps they had interests you could never have guessed without the photograph.
Improve Your Family History Research with Photographs
A big difficulty people often face when researching family history is the condition of their old photographs. The image may have faded through time or become damaged. Thorough photo restoration can bring that detail back, revive memories and enlighten you about the truth of your family’s past.
Find out more about our services and how we can help with your old photographs.
Keen to look after your collection of antique photos? Check out our guide to scanning old photographs for preservation and restoration.