Restoring photos is very satisfying work. Not only is the restoration process itself rewarding and interesting, but so is learning more about the photos and people in them. After all, if someone is putting forth the effort to have a photograph restored, than the people or places within it is very meaningful to them.
Who are the people captured in the photo? What place and period was it taken in? I love uncovering the stories behind the photos.
The stories are sometimes sad. They are often people who have recently died. Sometimes, though, people are on a quest – searching for something they lost (or never had in the first place).
I had a client several years ago for whom I restored approximately 50 photos. He had been adopted and was now tracking down his roots, over 60 years later.
He was able to uncover some relevant information on his birth family. While they had all died long ago, my client was researching archives for family photos – going back 100+ years to Poland.
He found several relatives’ photographs, which I was then able to help him match correctly. Sometimes the photos were in such bad shape you couldn’t make out the details of a face. But the proportions of features, space between eyes, distance to ears etc. don’t generally change. I superimposed one photo onto another to figure out if the woman in one photo was actually the same one in another; she would have been his grandmother. We did that with several people and he was able to build his history backwards, with faces to match.
There are also details in photos that someone with the proper restoration software can find. Thankfully, this client had a few family portraits which had a fair amount of detail. Once I had a really high-quality scan and could enlarge it, that is. He had been told his grandfather had been a lawyer. When I restored one of the family portraits, however, I could see the man’s hands very clearly. They were definitely “working hands.” I pointed this out to my client and he resumed his research.
Apparently, the information he had gotten was for a different family who had a similar name. It changed the direction of his research completely (it turned out that his grandfather had owned a farm).
The whole experience was fascinating and interesting for both of us. My client was very excited to learn about his ancestors. And I found it thrilling to help him, mainly because the photos held a great deal of meaning for him.