Paula Bailey

September 20, 2010

Photo restoration

At last!  The Photo Restoration pages on my website are complete and live.  Whilst I really need to re-work the whole site, I was keen to get these pages up and running as soon as possible now that I have the publicity materials printed and ready to go.  No point having a web address without anything on it.

photo restoration

My grandfather - this was probably taken around 1918

It all began with this photograph on the left.  This is my grandfather.  He was born in 1900, was too young to serve in WW1 but was working in a bottle factory that got bombed and was injured, which meant he couldn’t serve in WW2 either.  Of course he did contribute but was never on active service.  I have a certificate from the King thanking him for giving up the hotel he ran with my grandmother, so that injured soldiers could be treated – a makeshift hospital.

Old photographs have stories and memories attached to them which is why they are so precious.  The older they are the more scarce they may be – photography was very expensive – and many have become damaged over the years (over the centuries!).  I decided I wanted to display this photograph so set about using my then limited knowledge of photo editing to clean it up.  In those days I was using PaintShop Pro – a brilliant program that at the time did anything PhotoShop could do (I don’t know how it fares these days).  I was very pleased with the result, though I wish I’d scanned the original at a higher resolution.  Live and learn.

photo restoration

My great-great grandparents and their four daughters. My great grandmother stands on the left. This photo was taken in 1889 or earlier.

I tried other photos (my second task was my most treasured family photograph here on the right) and eventually tried working on more modern photos too.  Time and time again I heard stories about the photographs and what made them special.  Often they were the only photograph remaining of a family member, even the modern ones.

I  am now offering restoration as a service. Because I am so keenly aware of how important these photographs are, I prefer their owners to scan them in for me, but of course I will do this if necessary (very swiftly so that I can get the original back and out of my hands as soon as possible).

photo restoration

These little monkeys used their photo as a dart board! It's the only one their father has of them from that age (they're all grown up now).

There are some examples of what can be done, and some price guidelines on my website and you can see any new additions in my Flickr set – I’ll be adding to this as I go along.

I can also make improvements to old slides (usually dust removal and colour improvement) and digital images (such as removal of unwanted objects – see here).

Maybe you have an old photo that should be out on display instead of languishing in a drawer.  If you send me a quick scan I can let you know what can be done and give you a quote.  Or if you have any other questions not covered by the website pages, please email me and I’ll see if I can help.

Alternatively you may be feeling inspired by this and fancy having a go yourself.  If you have PhotoShop or similar editing software, and a scanner, you’re ready to go.  It takes time and patience and trial and error to get the details right, but it is incredibly satisfying.

It is so rewarding to be able to breathe life back into a treasured photograph and if you get to see the face of the owner when you give it to them – that’s priceless.

photo restoration

This was the only photo this guy had of himself as a young man - and with his pride and joy! It had been 'stored' in his back pocket for many years and was in danger of disintegrating. This one took a long time to do but was very rewarding.



  1. Very cool.

    Comment by Juliano Raphael — September 20, 2010 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

  2. This is amazing work! As a historian, I love the stories of people like your grandfather. I have no idea how restoration works, but you are gifted.

    Comment by educlaytion — September 20, 2010 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

  3. wow you’ve done a great job on all of those photos!
    I adore looking through old photo albums that my grandparents have, there’s always a good story behind every picture.

    Comment by sylviangirl — September 20, 2010 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  4. Wow – I’m impressed!! What do you plan to do with the photos once they are all restored? I wrote about creating a photo book with old family photos here: If you’re interested in creating a book – let me know!!

    Comment by Bonté Books — September 20, 2010 @ 2:43 pm | Reply

  5. I’m always fascinated by the processes used to restore old photos. As for actually undertaking the process, I live and die by the “history” tool. 😉 Good work!

    Comment by She.Is.Just.A.Rat — September 20, 2010 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  6. Fantastic work.

    Comment by Sandra of Enso Monkey — September 20, 2010 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

  7. This post appeared on the WordPress dashboard and got my attention, so i followed the link, got me here. Really good work, maybe you should keep focusing on doing several photo restorations, even go big with that. If not, anyway, it always works being a personal passion. 🙂

    Comment by miscellaneous11 — September 20, 2010 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

  8. Fabulous work. I am researching my family for a book project and have dozens of these kinds of photos. I will be contacting you!!

    Comment by Val — September 20, 2010 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

  9. Great job on these! I have done a few of my own and it is tedious work but so rewarding! Thanks for posting & congrats on being pressed!

    Comment by Christy aka Mamarazzi — September 20, 2010 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  10. thank u so much for this posts

    Comment by Hamsassa — September 20, 2010 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

  11. […] Here is another interesting blog about photo restoration.  I’ve always wanted to have my family’s old photos restored and I never thought about doing it myself.  Check out this cool tutorial using Adobe Photoshop! […]

    Pingback by Inspiration « Joe Corcoran — September 20, 2010 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

  12. Thanks for sharing some very interesting information. Old photos are beautiful!

    Comment by Evie Garone — September 20, 2010 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

  13. Beautiful restoration work! it’s amazing what you can do with today’s technology… wonderful idea!

    Comment by sayitinasong — September 20, 2010 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  14. Amazing restorations!

    Comment by Wish-It-Candles Blog — September 20, 2010 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  15. SO important. Thanks for this post. I adore old family photos, and it breaks my heart that so many are left to degrade.

    Comment by lifeintheboomerlane — September 20, 2010 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  16. i have tried this…but the result u have achieved here is simply amazing…great work!

    Comment by earthymind — September 20, 2010 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

  17. you are a sensitive soul, my friend. how heart-warming your post was. loved it, love what you do, hope you make POTS of money with your talent! big thump on your back! 🙂

    p.s i love fixing old photos too, and recently made a collage of really old black and white pictures that had to be revitalised first. it was so much fun and so very rewarding.

    Comment by munira's bubble — September 20, 2010 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

  18. Amazing work. Glad there’s someone like you doing this. It’s wonderful. Congrats on being on Freshly Pressed. Hope it gets you tons of clients as well 🙂

    Comment by Agatha82 — September 20, 2010 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

  19. CoooL

    Comment by Design RN — September 20, 2010 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

  20. Thank you everyone for your positive comments. I’ve been quite overwhelmed at the response today – it’s been lovely.

    Comment by Paula bailey — September 20, 2010 @ 8:01 pm | Reply

  21. nicely done! i do a lot of restoration for my family’s photographs and would love to make it part of my business repertoire, but as you know, it just takes up so much time! and congrats on being freshly pressed – i bet you’ll be getting tons of requests to fill your time.

    Comment by warblette — September 20, 2010 @ 8:20 pm | Reply

  22. Awesome work. I recently posted a craigslist item to scan photos for people in my local area. No hits yet but I know there is a great need for what you are doing. My services offer photo restoration as you have proved here, along with scanning services from print to digital formats. The possiblities are endless, from creating digital scrapbooks or photo albums and the best joy of all is that they can be shared with more than one family member or friend. The older photos seem to be held by just one family member as time goes by.

    Comment by Mac — September 20, 2010 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

  23. […] Someone offering a very impressive service on photo restoration. […]

    Pingback by Random Thoughts « The Droning Inquisition — September 20, 2010 @ 9:23 pm | Reply

  24. Uncanny. My local lab did some restorations like these, and I was blown away by what could be done.

    Comment by iheartfilm — September 20, 2010 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

  25. Wow, this is amazing. You are really good at your job! Which PS edition do you use? Very cool indeed!

    Comment by p_ernille_ — September 20, 2010 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

    • Thank you. I’m still using CS3 – it seems to do everything I want it to.

      Comment by Paula Bailey — September 20, 2010 @ 10:03 pm | Reply

  26. I REALLY want to do photo restoration with a photo of my dad. Hopefully… I get to turn his photos as good as yours. WELL DONE!

    Comment by bealitao — September 20, 2010 @ 10:34 pm | Reply

  27. This is a great idea! I’ll pass it on to my dad/other keepers of old family photos 🙂

    Comment by Miss Rosemary — September 20, 2010 @ 10:46 pm | Reply

  28. I was just going to my subscriptions page, and saw your post highlighted. Nice work! I’m betting my family has tons of photos that need that kind of restoration. I’ve only done very minor fixes.

    Comment by xeyli — September 20, 2010 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  29. I visited your site … I am impressed!!

    Way to go!


    Comment by tonirand — September 21, 2010 @ 12:06 am | Reply

  30. Amazing work! Thanks for sharing and congrats on being Freshly Pressed 🙂

    Comment by The Perfectly Imperfect One — September 21, 2010 @ 12:46 am | Reply

  31. Nice work! I’ve always wanted to learn photoshop! I just need to have more time for that 🙂

    Comment by krisjohnco — September 21, 2010 @ 12:54 am | Reply

  32. Fantastic! I love this post 😀

    Comment by Classic — September 21, 2010 @ 2:35 am | Reply

  33. when i first learned about photoshop, i was also amazed on the things it can do in a picture. aside from meer editing, it can also restore old images. only a few has the talent of doing works in programs liek photoshop. good for you. =)

    Comment by kevin — September 21, 2010 @ 3:06 am | Reply

  34. Really amazing work! You are truly gifted!

    Comment by pbandchutney — September 21, 2010 @ 3:33 am | Reply

  35. Awesome job. I’m a history lover with a bug for genealogy so looking at those pictures of your family members and the stories behind them are great. Keep up the great work and congrats on being freshly pressed.

    Comment by Scotty Starnes — September 21, 2010 @ 3:54 am | Reply

  36. Marvelous work! I still occasionally do PhotoShop and it takes eternal patience to restore photos as great as you have. I tried the same thing with some old photos at home and eventually got tired doing so. Congratulations on your success!

    Rex Raymon

    Comment by Rex Raymond — September 21, 2010 @ 4:28 am | Reply

  37. […] post about photo-restoration here. […]

    Pingback by Pylon, motorbike « Blog Archive « Lost on the way to the park… — September 21, 2010 @ 4:48 am | Reply

  38. It’s amazing what we can do nowadays, huh. Very nice.

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed, keep up the good work.

    Comment by iShotThePilot — September 21, 2010 @ 5:28 am | Reply

  39. Very nice. As an amateur photographer and the only one in my family with the ability to do this, I’d love to take it up as a new project. Only problem is that I live in Taiwan – and my family is in the US. I might have to work something out anyway, though!

    Comment by Joshua — September 21, 2010 @ 5:40 am | Reply

  40. Wow, great job with the photographs! They look good as new.

    Comment by The Mental Secretary — September 21, 2010 @ 5:44 am | Reply

  41. Great work!

    Comment by livingwithfibroids — September 21, 2010 @ 5:59 am | Reply

  42. The old age of the photos really bring out a special feel to them. Great job!

    Comment by Mereen — September 21, 2010 @ 9:16 am | Reply

  43. Really great. Keep up the great work.

    Comment by prongs298 — September 21, 2010 @ 9:49 am | Reply

  44. I too find photo restoration satisfying and rewarding. I’m currently working my way through all the old photo albums (albeit very slowly). I’m working in reverse so the longer I work on the project the further back in time I go and consequently the harder restoration becomes. I chose to do it this way in the hope that the experience of working on simpler photos first would gain me the skills I would later need for the more complex restorations.

    I am unfortunately up against the clock as I have MND and have already lost the use of my limbs so drive my computer using only my voice and a foot switch. My days of using Photoshop Elements are numbered 😦

    For those interested in the subject there is an excellent book called ‘Photoshop Restoration and Retouching’ by Katrin Eismann.


    Comment by mndals — September 21, 2010 @ 10:23 am | Reply

    • Wow, I am incredibly impressed that you can ‘drive’ a computer that way, let alone do complex restorations. I hope you managed to complete your project. Thanks for sharing the book title.

      Comment by Paula Bailey — September 21, 2010 @ 10:28 am | Reply

  45. Good article on photo restoration!!!!! Appreciate it!!! Very nice!

    Comment by Prashant Badiger — September 21, 2010 @ 11:50 am | Reply

  46. Fascinating stuff – as a historian (and photography enthusiast!), I’m interested in the way that old photographs can tell us so much not only about the individual(s) in the picture but the wider context of the society in which they lived.

    It’s great to see someone like you taking the time and trouble to restore some of these images back to their former glory, good luck with your project!

    Comment by trickygirl — September 21, 2010 @ 12:36 pm | Reply

  47. beatiful work!!! i hope you get tons of clients!! you deserve it!! amazing!!!

    Comment by Shara — September 21, 2010 @ 1:05 pm | Reply

  48. Nice post! It’s wonderful how technology has evolved, now you can update your old photo’s as if they where just taken.

    Comment by eurybe08 — September 22, 2010 @ 11:22 am | Reply

  49. […] blogged about photo restoration here and you can see more examples […]

    Pingback by Lastest Photo Restoration News | ArkivFoto — March 21, 2011 @ 6:32 pm | Reply

  50. […] photograph, very battered. Dating from around 1960.I’ve blogged about photo restoration here and you can see more examples here. tags: photo, […]

    Pingback by Photo Restoration — November 15, 2011 @ 9:29 am | Reply

  51. […] is a modified version of a post which first appeared on my Paula Bailey blog in September […]

    Pingback by Photo restoration | Mermaid Wiggle — August 25, 2013 @ 2:48 pm | Reply

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