Touched up using digital technology are most photographs that you see in magazines today. Removed, whitened and are either enhanced or cleared of unsightly elements are blemishes, the teeth and backgrounds, in this order. Working wonders with old photo restoration, not only restoring old images to their earlier beauty, but also possibly improving them vastly in the process are the same techniques.
If your aim is the restoration of the original photograph, then showing your photographs to a qualified professional is necessary. If the damage is slight, then undertaking the restoration, which may incorporate any of the methods given below is what he will do. Be sure that the professional you choose is competent because these techniques require experience, expertise and a very delicate touch, and any restoration work done on the photograph itself can be permanent.
One method of old photograph restoration is electronic wherein the photograph is placed in a scanner and electronic signals from the scanned image are digitalized and projected onto a computer monitor. Scratches and tears, remove flaws, stains and blemishes and even rebuild missing parts of the image can then be repaired by the restorer. For this technology, the hardware and software technology is very sophisticated and requires a highly trained technician to operate it, so the costs involved in this type of restoration can be prohibitive.
Using chemicals, old black and white photographs can be restored. The metallic silver substance in the photograph that has oxidized and caused the washed out appearance is restored and a very faded picture can be redeveloped. This method will sometimes bring clarity back to the faded original because it results in a dramatic improvement. You may want to consider before making a decision about bleaching the old photograph first before redeveloping it which is even more effective, , but there are serious drawbacks to these techniques. The chemicals used in redeveloping it can degrade the old emulsion and permanently damage it if the old print is fragile. Redeveloping after using bleach will change the old photograph forever, and you will be stuck with your new picture, whether you like it or not. A less drastic method of restoration is what you may prefer if your old photograph is of considerable sentimental value to you.
A method which is the last expensive is making a copy of your old photograph and then working on the copy with all the digital technology available today.
To preserve them, old photographs must be stored carefully by keeping old prints flat and laying them between sheets of special acid free paper. When they inherit these precious pictures, your children will not have to worry about old photo restoration if you look after your old photographs well.