RESTORATION & PRESERVATION
OF PHOTOGRAPHS & DOCUMENTS
Article presented by: Frederick Bird, Owner, Fred Bird Photography
P.O. Box 3, Ellington, CT 860-871-0357. Studio located at 67 Hopkins Road, Ellington. See our work at www.fredbirdphotography.com Many individuals want old photographs or old documents copied and preserved. There are several things that you should understand prior to giving the photographs or documents to an individual to correct and restore. If you should have questions about a project, please contact me at Fred Bird Photography 860-871-0357. There is NO fee to discuss a project.
Storage and safe keeping: Immediately start a proper storage process. The items shall NOT be kept in a hot or damp location. Use archival approved storage materials. Go on line and find companies that sell archival materials.
Check for image and document degradation: Old color prints may take on a pink or red look. Have them copied and put the original into storage. Light will keep degrading the color print. Odd color casts can be removed by the restoration process. The final print many not be perfect, but the print will be acceptable. With black and white prints, tip the print in the light and see if a silver metallic look appears. Old prints may not have been washed well and old print fixer is going to give the print a metallic look. If the print is put away, out of the light, the degradation will slow down. If the print(s) are curled,
DO NOT TRY TO FLATTEN. Trying to flatten will cause the print to crack. Get assistance in flattening the print.
Start a data base: Start a data base on all the images and information. Start this immediately. There should be some type of numbering process for all prints, documents and data. Have some type of cross reference.
Copying and restoration of prints and documents.
THIS SECTION IS VERY IMPORTANT. Look at all your prints and documents, especially small ones, with a strong magnifying glass. There are many cracks and scratches that you do not see with the naked eye. These cracks and scratches will show up when copies are made and especially when the material is enlarged. DOCUMENT in field notes what you see. Try to find someone who will
COPY YOUR ITEMS WHILE YOU WAIT. I do not want to keep old items in my studio. People make an appointment and come to my studio. We immediately copy the item and they then leave with the items. There should be no extra charge for copying the old images while you wait. Some will charge extra to copy an assignment while you wait. I am not talking about processing the images while you wait, just copying the images. Check to see if those who are doing the copy work are using polarized light. This takes the shine and other problems out of the image when it is copied. However, this also may make the damaged areas stand out. Remember in any copy work (film, digital or scanned) dark areas get darker and light areas get lighter and some details may be lost. You cannot replace details that are not there. Example: a face that is very light with no detail in the skin. The skin detail cannot be put back. You need some place to get the detail that is needed.
Do not let someone talk you into reconstruction work that you do not want or need.
See copy process below.Copy process: Determine why you want an item copied. Family history, for a book, to hang on the wall. An old looking print or document with a tear or two may be just the look you need or want. In this case, all you need is to have the old item copied. Repairjust what you want or need. There may be a crack in the face. OK, fix that but not the entire print. Possible damage to the print but not to the person. In this case you can have the person cropped out.
Do not let someone talk you into full restoration if this is not what you want. Give the reconstruction person a written description of what you want done. Save a copy for yourself. Have the item copied at the best quality and the largest size that you may want. You can always downsize without loss of data and detail but you cannot always enlarge a copied print. Remember, the larger you make a print, the more the defects show and the more touchup will be needed.
Ask for an estimate of the restoration cost. The final cost could be more than the estimate due to retouching problems. If I run into reproduction problems, I contact the client and discuss what they would like done. There should be no surprises. Even so, the re-toucher should be able to give you a ball park figure on the cost.
Who owns the copyright? Some photographers may say they own the copyright to the image due to the fact they created the copy image. They may also feel they now can sell the new image. I feel you own the image and I am just providing a copy enhancement service. I charge for the copy work, make the required repairs and make the required prints and then burn the image to a disk. You get the disk. Because I make repairs on your car, I now do not own your car.
Ask this question before you have the work done.
Be sure that NO ONE uses copies of your images unless you give them permission. If you should have questions about restoration work, please feel free to contact me days, evenings, weekends at
Please look at some of my restoration work on my web page at www.fredbirdphotography.com.
Please note, THERE IS NO COST TO DISCUSS A PROJECT. Fred Bird Photography 860-871-0357.