Guest Blog

Restoring Vintage Photos

vintage family photos


From Photoxels Editor
When Max approached me about a guest blog on the subject of photo restoration, I thought that was a good idea and would benefit our readers. After all, who doesn’t have some old photos in albums or hanging on the wall, perhaps passed on by parents and grandparents? They have cracked or the colours may have faded over the years.

Of course, we have all dabbled in Photoshop and digitally manipulated photos, but restoring vintage photos takes a bit more expertise and art skills than most of us have, as Max explains below.

So, here is Max’s article on Restoring Vintage Photos.

A note on Guest Blog: A Guest Blog is not a Sponsored Post: we do not get any financial gain from this post. There is no referral fee, should you decide to avail yourself of the photo restoration service mentioned in this article. A Guest Blog is also not a recommendation. We have not used this service and you should do your own research and make your own decision concerning availing yourself of the service.


How Are Vintage Pictures Restored? A Guide To Its Process

Photographs are valuable. Many of us use them to look back on times that are long gone. It’s safe to assume that these pictures may still be intact. Unfortunately, they won’t always remain this way. Photographs don’t last forever and usually fade after a few decades. Thankfully, in our case, the photographs we take may last a few more years without a problem. Could you imagine the state of your pictures if they were to grow old? If you have any old photos like this of your childhood or from when your grandparents or parents were young, they may show signs of age. However, many companies can remedy this issue; they work to alter your vintage pictures, restoring them their former glory.

vintage image before & after

It is safe to say that if anyone wants to restore vintage pictures, they need to have a background in art. As you will see, the restoration process involves some knowledge of painting, as well as colour theory. Since the Internet has paved the way for many great tools, much of this painting does not take place by hand, but rather on applications like Photoshop or

First, A Good Quality Scan Is Needed
If you need to get a photo restored, they will work on a computer to bring your picture back to life. So, the only way they can do this is if you scan it.

This is why you need to make sure that the photographs are sent through a high-quality scanner. If the quality is bad, then the restorer would not have a good canvas to work on. If you have a good scanner, then you need to send fully-coloured scans with the setting set at the highest resolution.

Obviously, if you want to go the old-fashioned route and locate restorers who manually do the work, then this doesn’t apply to you.

What Happens When There Are Cracks On The Photograph?
Now, old pictures are usually ridden with cracks and folds. These occur over time and occur due to the way the photograph was held. If it was held in a way that caused it to be folded, then cracks, folds, and creases would be present. Thankfully, people who restore pictures have found a way to tackle these problems.

They are painted over. This can be done manually with paint or through Photoshop. The restorer looks at this area and fills in the fold according to its colour. Fortunately, as the picture is vintage, this means that it will be black and white. So, the job of picking out the right colour is easy.

Through this method, the imperfection is hidden from the eyes.

What Happens If The Photograph Has Faded Away?
If the picture has faded spots, the restorer will take out the paint and amplify the colour that has been smudged away. For example, if the face of someone in the photograph is unclear, they will identify the colours surrounding them. Then, the colour would be placed back here. It’s similar to how cracks are eliminated.

If the photograph has an intricate design that has faded, such as that on a carpet or dress, then it is not just about painting the area in. The restorer would have to carefully copy the design, if any of it is left. If there aren’t any, then it is all guesswork. That’s why using Photoshop would make this task easy. This is because you can copy-paste the design.

What Happens If The Photograph Has Stains?
If the picture has stains from residue, this can be remedied using Photoshop. Unfortunately, this would be difficult if it were done by hand.

vintage family photos

Using photoshop, the restorer would isolate the ruined patch. Then, he would reduce the saturation. With the saturation gone, the patch acts as a blank canvas. This is painted over by matching it to the surrounding colours.

How Are Black And White (B&W) Photographs Coloured?
Although this does not necessarily involve a fault in the photo, many of us want to see how vintage pictures would look if they were coloured. That’s why this service is quite popular. It’s done through guesswork, and the colours and prints are purely the work of imagination. Usually, this is done after extensive research.

You need to cherish your old photographs and store them safely. Not only should you admire them, but you should also take good care of them. If you do this, you will be able to preserve the picture for a long time. Thankfully, if you’re ever in need of getting your pictures restored, you now know that there are restoration services available. You also know the artistry behind restoring them.

Max Ernst is a professional documentary photographer who has had his work published and showcased internationally. In addition to pursuing his craft, he also runs an image restoration service, He continues to study photography and capture human life in all its versatility.