What do you do with my photograph?
I combine my decades of photographic printing skill and experience with high-tech tools to construct a new digital image that embodies the original quality and beauty of the photograph. It's genuine "information recovery," not "information fabrication." I bring old photographs back to life; I do not invent a new life for them.
"Digital Photo Restoration?"
recovers and restores a photograph to its proper glory while leaving the original
object unaltered. It doesn't involve physical restoration nor
alteration of the original photograph. I make a high-quality scan of the
photograph, and this is what I work with. All the restorative work takes place in the computer, not on the original photograph.
Digital restoration can
work wonders; it usually produces much greater improvements in image quality than
conventional physical restoration. If restoring the image, not the physical
object, is what's important to you, then digital restoration is the safest and
the best way to resurrect a photograph. There's much less risk of damage to the
original than with conventional physical photo restoration.
Digital restoration is
not retouching. The heart of what I do is not painting, drawing, nor hand-tinting. The only time I "create" parts of a photograph is when that area in the original is so badly damaged that there is nothing of the image to be recovered.
What kinds of
originals can you restore?
Oh, just about
I can restore color and
B&W slides, negatives, and prints. I can handle sheet film, roll film, and glass
plates. I can even reconstruct full-color images from color separation films or
plates. The "samples of my work" page has
additional examples of my work.
The original has to be
flat so I can scan it. Sheet films and glass plates can't be bigger than 10 in. by 16 in., but prints can be any size. Prints,
plates, and sheet film should be at least 3 in. by 4 in. for the best results (I
can work from smaller originals, but the sharpness may suffer). Roll film can be
any format from subminiature up through 6 cm by 17 cm.
What do I get
from your service?
The most important are the high-resolution computer image files, saved in TIFF & JPEG formats. Most people prefer to have them delivered as downloads from my website, but I can burn them to a CD if you prefer. Those files contain the fully restored photograph that I've
made, rendered with maximum possible fidelity and detail. The typical file size
is 80-100 MB. I also provide lower-resolution versions of the file for more
convenient printing out, emailing to friends, or posting on your Web
You can have unlimited
numbers of prints made from those files by any means you choose; you can even
print them out on your home computer's inkjet printer. Still, most people can't
wait to see the results, so I also include a full-size, high-quality inkjet print.
And, of course, you get
back your original, unharmed and unaltered.
How does your
There are three
— I evaluate the
original photograph. If I think I can restore it, I'll tell you what it will
cost, and you can decide to proceed or have me return the original to you, no
— If you want me to restore your photograph, you send me the payment for my work. I will work my magic, and I will send you an
approval image that will contain a watermarked version of the final image for
your evaluation and comment.
— If you're happy with
the approval image, I'll print it out and send you back your original and the inkjet print. If you're not
happy with the approval image or the final print, I will do further work on the photograph until it
meets your approval. If I cannot produce a restoration that pleases you, I will
refund your money and return your original. Once you've let me know you're happy with the final print, I'll upload the finished files to my website for you to download.
What do you do
to the original?
In order to scan the
photograph with maximum fidelity, I sandwich it between glass in the
scanner. If it's a framed print or a mounted slide, that means removing it from
its frame or mount. (If necessary, originals can be scanned without unmounting
them, but there may be some loss of sharpness in the restoration.)
Beyond that, I do as
little as possible. I don't do anything to the original unless I'm absolutely
certain it won't harm it. I don't even clean the original unless I'm positive
that the cleaning tools and chemicals are 100% safe for that medium and its state
How much do
your services cost?
Every restoration is different. I have to examine the original before I will give you a firm price. I will quote you a fixed* price
based on how long I think it will take me to do the work. The restorations I've
done so far have taken as little as two hours or as long as
thirty, but 4-6 hours is most typical.
I really can't give you
a firm price without seeing the original. But if you look at the samples on my
web site, you'll see that I've included the approximate number of hours it took
to do each restoration. Multiply that by my hourly rate, and you'll have a good idea of what each job cost.
In general, restoration
of color photographs doesn't cost much more than restoring B&W ones. The size of
the original also has little effect on the price.
Restoring faded colors
and tones is less expensive than repairing physical damage. I can turn a
clean-but-brick-red original back into a pristine full-color photograph in a few
hours. Repairing a badly-scratched photo can take ten. Really extensive damage,
like the heavy mildew in the cityscape shown on my opening page, can take dozens
of hours to repair. The more damage I have to "disappear," the longer the clock
(*I charge a fixed sum based on a rate of $65/hour. If
the job proves more difficult or time-consuming than I thought, that's my
problem; I won't come back to you and demand more money.)
How do I
You can pay me by
personal check or via PayPal. Of course I'll accept an institutional check, a
bank or postal money order, or a certified check, but those are not necessary. I
don't hold up your job until personal checks clear — I trust people, and that
trust has always been rewarded.
You don't pay anything
for a quote. You only need to pay me after I give you a price for the
restoration. I require payment in full up front, but I guarantee my work 100%;
you will be satisfied or you'll get your money back (see below).
Can I set up an
account and have you bill me?
It's unlikely. I really hate doing
billing, I hate waiting for accounting departments to process invoices, I hate
waiting for the check to show up in the mail. I just totally detest dealing with
all of that, so I've set up my rules of business so that I don't have to. One of
the perks of being self-employed.
But ... if your
institution absolutely will not do business my way, and you're offering me enough
work to justify the aggravation, I might make an exception. It's rare; I've made
three in thirty years, but you could be No.4.
How can I be
sure I'll be happy with the results?
I guarantee my work
100%. It's most simple — if I can't produce a restoration that makes you happy,
I'll refund your money.
When I believe I've
completed the restoration, I'll send you a watermarked "proof" file for
examination. If you accept the restoration, I'll send you your original back,
along with the finished files and the inkjet print. If you're not
satisfied, I'll either fix what you don't like or return your money and
How should I
ship a photograph?
Pack it well! Tape it
between several sheets of oversize foamcore or stiff corrugated cardboard
(not thin sheet cardboard), and put that inside a bigger box or rigid-wall
envelope with ample padding. It should be able to pass the "I can throw the
package across the room without harming the contents" test. If you think it needs
to be marked 'Fragile,' then it isn't packed well enough.
If the photograph has an
established value, then ship via registered mail, insured. USPO will insure
one-of-a-kinds and artwork, unlike most other carriers. If it's not insurable,
use any of the standard carriers. I use ordinary USPS Priority Mail for all my shipping, which automatically includes a tracking number.
How do you
The same way I recommend
you ship them. In 30 years of shipping films and prints, I've never had one lost
Do you use my
restored photograph or have any rights to it?
Absolutely not. The
photograph is entirely your property, both the original and the restoration. I
can't do anything with it without your express permission. Even the samples you
can see here on my web site are posted only because the owners of the photographs
gave me specific permission to use them this way.
Sorry, no. Trying to
cover unique originals known to be in a fragile or deteriorated state would be
prohibitively expensive for me. I've not lost or damaged someone's film or
photograph in my entire career, and I've handled hundreds of originals over those
three decades. But, life happens, and I cannot warrant nor guarantee the original
you send me won't be the first unlucky victim of accident.
In other words, if you want me to restore your photograph, you send me your originals entirely at your own risk,
and I am not responsible for any direct or consequential damages, either in
shipping or while in my care.
another question... ?
Send me email or give me a call (my phone
number's on the order page. I don't have an answering
machine -- hate' em -- but I always reply to email within 72 hours and usually within