Photo Restoration

The story of bringing one treasured old photo back to life!

This is about a 1958 wedding photo that shows a clients grandmother’s wedding day in Manchester, NH. He wanted to have it restored as a Christmas 2018 present for her.

When I saw the picture I realized that it would be a great technical and artistic challenge!

  • The old print had severe water damage, fading, mold damage and tears.

  • Only head and shoulders of bride and groom were undamaged but faded.

  • The dress was severely damaged from the waist down and it was impossible to determine the full shape and design of the dress.

Obviously my client, the adult grandson, couldn’t ask grandmother for details about her wedding dress as it was a surprise present for her. He wasn't able to recommend anyone else to ask.

I spent almost an hour carefully opening the waterlogged frame and removing the photo that was firmly stuck to the glass. After that I scanned the fragile print into the computer. I created various versions with different densities to help find some detail in the faded yellow print.

Luckily for me, my wife worked researching wedding dresses from that era. She then searched modern wedding dresses that were vintage reproductions of that style. A modern photo with better resolution gave us an idea of how to recreate the dress.

She asked friends a lot of questions at the holiday parties.  One lady, in her 80s, had prom in that era and had useful information about those styles of dresses.  Another friend remembered his grandmother’s wedding dress photo. Thankfully their suggestions agreed with her research.

On the computer, I took these actions to carefully rebuild the damaged photo:

  • Determined the line of the skirt

  • Superimposed a photo of a modern reproduction dress over the damaged photo to recreate the original shape of skirt and veil.

  • Created the double veil – shoulder length and floor length including making new veil with small piece of lace from around the face

  • Cleaned damaged areas from many, many mold spores

  • Rebuilt the bouquet that had bright yellow mold damage and missing areas

  • Added a shadow to the tulle over-skirt

  • Rebuilt torn areas where the photo was stuck to the glass

  • Recovered the faded background

  • Enhanced contrast of the couple to separate them from the background

  • Created a replacement floor as the original was obliterated by water stains

  • Toned the photo with an appropriate consistent tint

This photo was a great challenge. Very interesting to rebuild the large damaged areas. The job and new print was completed in time for Christmas. They also now have a digital copy that won’t degrade.


The best thing was the comment from the grandson: She loved it!

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before and after examples

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