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Restoring Your Old Photos
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Restoring Your Old Photos

Old Town Print Gallery was created by the professionals at Old Town Editions, an art reproduction and fine art printing company located in Old Town, Alexandria. The bulk of our business is working with artists to digitize and reproduce their artwork in the form of archival, fine art prints on both paper and canvas, but we also offer digital restoration services. 

What is Digital Restoration

With digital restoration, the first step is taking a high-res digital capture of your photograph. We use the same system for our digital restoration work as we do for art reproduction, so you can be sure we’re getting the best possible file to work from. Having a high-quality file to work with allows us to get the most out of your photograph. 

Once we have the digital file, we will start working on the digital restoration. This work is done with Photoshop, and we’ll remove any dust/cracks/damage, as well as make color and tonal adjustments to correct for any fading or discoloration that has occurred over time. 

Benefits of digital restoration 

Example of Digital Photo Restoration

The main benefit of digital restoration is that there is virtually no risk to the safety of your photograph. We are trained in the safe handling of artwork and antique photos and take special care with anything fragile during the digital capture process. Once we’re done with the digital capture your old photo is placed in an archival storage box where it will be safe while we work on the digital restoration. This means there will be minimal handling of your photograph, minimizing any potential risks.

Less Risk to Original Photograph

Having the physical photo restored is a much trickier task, requiring specialized chemicals and processes, and an incredibly well-trained hand. While trained professionals aren’t in the habit of making mistakes, there is always a risk when working on antique/vintage photographs that something could cause unexpected damage. 

Example of Restoration of Damaged Photo

Fewer Limitations

There are limits to what can be restored on a physical photograph, and a conservator would be able to tell you what is and isn’t possible with your photograph. With digital restoration, however, there are far fewer things that can’t be fixed. With the wide range of tools available in our digital toolbox, even severe damage and fading can often be restored to original or near original condition. 

What Can’t Be Fixed With Digital Restoration

While digital restoration is much less limited than the restoration of the original photograph, that doesn’t mean it’s a magic process, and there are still certain types of damage that just cannot be fixed. However, the list of what can’t be fixed is much smaller than the list of what can be fixed. General fading, discoloration, cracks, dust/dirt, and most tears/flakes are no problem at all. 

Extreme Fading

Our digital capture system is capable of capturing extremely fine detail, often picking up more than we can see with our eyes. Even if there is very limited tone in certain areas of the photograph, as long as there’s something there, we can at least improve the condition. But if your photograph has faded to the point that certain areas simply don’t have any information anymore, there is nothing we can do to bring that back. 

Certain Missing Pieces

Digital Restoration Sample of Missing Piece

We’ve worked with countless photographs that have pieces missing, whether a photograph was torn, had a piece crack off or was intentionally altered. Oftentimes these can still be restored, as long as there is information in the rest of the photograph for us to pull from. For example, if there is a chunk missing from a group of trees in the background, we can fill in that space with information taken from the remaining trees. 

Where things get trickier is if the missing piece is either very large or is in a very detailed or important area. For example, if part or all of someone’s face is missing, there is very little we can do to accurately recreate their image. What we could do is take different features from others in the photograph to recreate a face, but we of course could not guarantee that the resemblance would match the original person. 

Pulling Info From Reference Photos

If there is a piece missing from your photograph that would not be possible to recreate, such as a person’s entire face, but you have another photograph of that person, we can use that to restore the damaged photo. We would take a high-res scan of the reference photo as well, and use that to recreate the missing area.

How to Get Your Old Photos Restored With Us

If you’ve got an antique photo you’d like to have restored, we’d be happy to help you! The best way to handle this will depend on whether you are local to our area or not, but either way we can still work with you.

Local to Northern Virginia 

If you’re able to make it to our studio in Alexandria, Virginia, that’s great! You can schedule an appointment to come in with your photograph and we’ll go over what’s possible and what pricing would be like, as our restoration services are priced on a scale depending on the severity of the damage on the photograph. At that point, you can go ahead and put in the job, or take your time to think about it, no rush! We can be reached at 703-684-0005, or by e-mail at info@oldtowneditions.com. 

Out of Area

If you aren’t able to get to our studio, we would recommend e-mailing us a simple phone picture of your old photograph so that we can give you an estimate for our services, as well as let you know what’s possible with your photograph and make sure we can meet your expectations. If you’d like to move forward with the job, you would need to mail us the photograph. We’d be happy to give suggestions for safe packaging to make sure your photograph arrives to us safely. You can reach us at info@oldtowneditions.com. 


Learn More

If you’d like to learn more about Old Town Editions' digital restoration services, click here! We’ve got tons of information and before-and-after examples that you can browse through. 

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