We all invest emotionally in photographs. From the teenager with pictures Blu-Tacked at the side of their bed, to mothers with passport-sized photos of loved ones in their purses, to the beautifully framed portraits that hang over family fireplaces. Not forgetting our albums documenting wedding joy or arrival of our newborn babes. We delight in the moments captured in print, gaze at images of our loved ones and have proud smiles at photographs of our children. And perhaps our photographs hold no greater value for us, than after we have lost the loved one they depict. Then they become something we truly treasure.
I regularly try to emphasise to my clients the importance of having their images in a physical format, such as albums or framed prints, partly because that way they get to enjoy seeing their pictures everyday (how often do we actually dig the USB out of the drawer and look at our photographs on our computers?) and also because discs and USBs are so easily mislaid, or technology will march on and they will be obsolete. Absolutely digital negatives are important, and extremely useful to use to print images, but they must be carefully stored and backed up. However for me nothing beats being able to glance at the photograph on the mantlepiece, or see it on the wall whenever you are in the room.
If I could save only one of my photographs, then it would be this one (sorry kids!). Taken by my Aunt when I was eighteen, this candid picture of me and my Grandma is the most precious photograph I have (one of very few I have of her and possibly the only one of the two of us together) and it has sat on my mantlepiece for over twenty years. She died in 1995, which is when I really started to fully comprehend the importance of one small photograph. What would be the one picture that you would save?
Recently I had a friend approach me with a damaged photograph in a broken frame, wondering if anything could be done to salvage the picture. The image showed my friend Doreen and her sister with their much loved father, who sadly was no longer with them. The photo was filled with happiness, showing them all together with smiling faces, and it had played an important part to her Dad as it was used to show who they all were, as his memory faded. Unfortunately the glass in the frame had broken and liquid had got behind the glass, welding the photo to the broken glass. I took the frame to see what I could do, as I could see what a cherished picture this was. I could see that the emulsion of the photograph was stuck fast, and trying to remove the glass would destroy the picture forever, so that wasn’t an option. After chatting about it with a photographer friend I decided that the least destructive way to tackle this would be to photograph the whole thing and create a new digital image which I could then work on to remove the dust and damage.
Once I had the new digital image I set to work in Photoshop. The liquid behind the glass had changed the colour of the image in places. And the broken glass and dust and damage all needed to be edited out. It was painstaking work, but knowing how cherished the picture is made me keen to restore the photograph and provide my friend with a new copy. I was pleased with the finished results and even more delighted by the look on Doreen’s face when I gave her the finished prints.
If you have any treasured pictures that need some restoration please get in touch.