Photograph restoration – interview with Photographs Forever

At a recent networking event I was very lucky to be sitting next to someone called Richard Haines. We started talking, and after hearing what he does for a living I urged him to tell me more. I was fascinated by some of the stories he had to tell so I thought I’d find out more about his work, and share it with you all!

Richard, tell me about your company Photographs Forever.

Photographs Forever has been in existence for about three years and specialises in photograph restoration and photo retouching. I never cease to be fascinated how virtually every photograph can be improved in some way. The worst cases are torn, damaged by damp, mould or scratches, others are faded, have blemishes, dust spots or other qualities that spoil the photograph. Photographs from the past don’t age well and giving people digitally restored photographs means that they can be stored for future generations, printed and enlarged so they can be framed and enjoyed by all. More recent photographs can also be faded or damaged and these too can be saved. As well as this lots of photographs can be improved by digitally removing unwanted aspects of the photograph such as lamp posts growing out of people’s heads or other objects that detract from what would otherwise be a good photo, so we do all the photo retouching services as well.

restored old black and white photograph, girl with a doll in a pram

 How did you get into photo restoration?

I have always loved photography and been a keen photographer. I have a great fondness for family photographs, especially old and historic ones. With old photographs they were often a very special occasion as there were very few good cameras, many people used to get family portraits and groups taken in a professional studio; the sort of photography where the subject has to pose and stay very still because the camera shutter is open for a relatively long time. The results of this were some fascinating set up poses often with various props like columns, furniture or canvas backgrounds of a country scene etc. I find all these types of photographs wonderful. When I moved my parents’ from their house we came across a big box of photographs many of which I’d never seen before and many of which were looking more than a bit the worse for wear. There were photos like my dad pushing my mum in a wheelbarrow before they were married, and a picture taken in a studio of my grandma with my mum when my mum was about 2 years old. There were lots of photographs and I scanned about 250 of them and decided to learn how to use the restoration computer software effectively to improve these pictures as I wanted to enlarge and frame some. I then realised that there are thousands of people out there who could enjoy a similar thrill to mine and decided to start a company offering a high quality photograph restoration service.

husband pushing wife in a wheelbarrow, old photograph restored

How long on average does it take to restore one photo?

It depends how bad the original is. One major factor is faces and particularly eyes. Where damage has occurred here it is them that take the longest to get corrected. Every job is different but a straightforward scan and crop is £3.50, a basic scan and restoration is £12.50. If there is a lot of work a complex restoration is £34.50.

What tools do you use?

All my restoration work is using Adobe Bridge and Photoshop. There are some great tools which with lots of practice and knowledge help me to make some fantastic restorations.

Tell me somes examples of how you have helped people restore their old photographs.

I was walking my dog and met a guy and we got talking and I mentioned that I restored photographs and he said “You may just be the answer to my problem to settle a family feud – my mother died last year and left a precious family photograph album with almost 300 pictures of me and my two sisters growing up. We all want the album and one of my sisters has already removed many of the pictures of her and it’s such a shame to spoil the album.” This led to me scanning and restoring all 287 photographs (after he had recovered the missing photos from his sister) so that three photobooks could be produced, each containing all the images that looked bigger and better than the originals. They shared the cost and everyone was very happy!

People also come to me with the last remaining copy of a precious little picture that is deteriorating and quite small – often only about 3 inches by 4 inches. Many times these photographs were originally very good quality. After restoration they make fantastic enlargements which can be framed and enjoyed fully by everyone. The photo of the little girl with the pram (above) is a good example of this.

What are the main benefits and reasons why people should get their photographs restored?

There are lots and lots of good reasons, some of which I’ve already mentioned but the main ones are – to prevent further deterioration to the original photograph, a digital restoration will not only be better but will never deteriorate again, new prints are made on archive paper so they won’t fade now, you can share the digital images as prints or via email, you can build fantastic photobooks that look better than the originals and won’t deteriorate, you can make enlargements, a restored photograph makes a great and unique gift, having lasting images of your relatives for use with family trees and passing on to future generations.

Isn’t it fascinating? Richard is not just restoring photographs and saving them from being lost forever, he is restoring people’s memories. If you have old photographs that you would like to restore to their former glory and save from destruction, give Richard a call and he will be happy to help you. Click here for Photographs Forever contact details.

(Obviously the images in this post are not mine – thought I’d mention that as all other images on this website are copyright Katariina Jarvinen)