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Update on my photo restoration business 1 year later

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  • Update on my photo restoration business 1 year later

    Hi all sorry I have been out of touch, it has been a tough year.

    Well on balance, I am satisfied with my progress. First year and I have had 30+ orders. This on top of keeping all my other plates spinning. The dad thing with 3 young boys and my wife's medical practice.

    I am focusing on the strategy Vicki from Niagra Falls suggested of having 1 or 2 photo stores and framing stores have my literature and samples. I have gotten some nice referrals. Store owners have been giving me free referrals. I have approached the #1 camera store regionally, about setting up a production arrangement.

    Right now my relationship with my clients feels something a kin to a piano tuner. They bring their photos to my house. I get to know them, I talk about their families and their photos. They tell me stories. There is something of a healing spiritual quality to recreating damaged artifacts that interests me. Building personal history.

    I am using a photo lab in Utah (Replicolor Attention: Heather) for my prints. They are using a Chromira Printer. I send 400 dpi jpegs. So far, I am very satisfied with how the prints match my screen, and I am not very focused on any color matching technology. Service has been great, they quickly fix any problems. The key is really watching shipping costs. I welcome any suggestions on alternative print suppliers.

    I am happy not owning a pigmented ink printer for now. I don't have enough work to keep it running every day. This arrangement with the Chromira isn't costing me a dime to run. I am not in a hurry for prints.

    I live in a fairly poor rural area and so I have to be willing to give clients a lot for their money. I don't think I will ever get rich off of Photo restoration, but it is a great sideline which will allow me to grow creatively. A good example of this is that I am seeing a real need for framing services as a natural extension the restoration work. Framing will enable me to get my other fine art work out there in boutiques and galleries.

    I have started volunteering in my son's 2nd grade class as a History Builder. I bring in a 120 inch measure tape which we use as a time line. It is so much fun to show them where they are as 8 year olds on the time line. I show them all kinds of photos and they are picture detectives and we list clues they see, and guess at the age of the photos and at things about the lives of the people in the photos and other ephemera which is part of the presentation. It is fun to show them on the time line, where their parents and grand parents and WWII are. And of course, now they also always want to pin point when the planes flew into the buildings. We are starting to talk about ancestors and family trees. They are such little sponges for knowledge.

    As time permits I want to apply for an arts grant that has photo restoration in its content. Photo restoration has certainly given my artistic vision an interesting patina.

    I wish you all well.

    Gerry Monaghan

    ps DJ, I was in Ft Lauderdale a few weeks ago. What a nice part of the country. g

  • #2
    Gerry, this is a heart-warming update on your activities. Congratulations on your progress. Your point about the healing spiritual quality of photo restoration is interesting. Many years ago my paternal grandparents were killed in an accident. There were only two faded photos of them in existence and several years ago I had them restored by a local professional. My nieces and nephews are now beginning to marry and start families of their own. Your post was a reminder to me to have copies made of the restored photos so the new generations will know a bit more about their family history.

    Best of luck to you with your ventures.


    • #3
      Hey Gerry,
      That's great!! Glad you got back to us on the subject. Sounds a lot like the way I'm doing business. Most of my clients are warm and friendly and I enjoy the stories they have to tell about their photos and lives. It's not a bad business and hey, I live in Boca Raton, home of the multibillionaires and I still find I have to give alot away to get the business. I think the informality of the home setting tends to add to that and I'm not a tough business person either. I do know when I walk into an office or store their prices are more set in stone or at least that's the feeling I get as opposed to the relaxed dining room setting. It's probably why doctors quit making house calls. Got tired of getting paid in chickens.
      So you were in the Ft Lauderdale area. That's about 15 miles south of me. It's a nice place. I like it alot better than Miami. Glad you enjoyed your trip. Good luck.


      • #4
        Hi Gerry,

        Good to hear from you again. Congratulations on your progress. I know it's not easy. It sounds as though you have a very good outlook, and someone who is interested in helping people get something they can cherish, instead of someone who is out for every penny they can squeeze. Good luck in the future. Check back with us every so often.



        • #5
          advice for a retiree

          Hi Gerry. I was very impressed by the progress that you made within one year. I've been working with PhotoShop and digial photography for the past six years. I'm retiring in the latter part of this year and I will be devoting considerably more time to PS, etc. than I currently have time for. My goal is to become as skilled as I can so that I can fully enjoy my hobby. I would also like to develop a business of printing and retouching that would be an incentive for me to keep pushing myself. It would also help to have a little extra money in retirement, but I agree that the personal contact is very important. I have a Epson 2200 printer, an Epson scanner and a Nikon slide scanner, so I was thinking a doing the work myself. I could take peoples slides and negatives and provide prints. Contacting the local photo shops,etc is a good idea.

          I currently live in NYC and spend my weekends in Hindsdale, MA which is near Pittsfield in western, MA. I'll be in Hindsdale full time when I retire. The entire Berkshire County is a lively and folksy place with a lot to do and wonderful people. There should be considerable interest among many of the who live in the area.

          I welcome any suggestions that any of you might have.



          • #6
            Thanks for the update Gerry. I myself have been thinking about adding restoration services. I do commercial retouching now.

            I was recently given a nearly 100 yr old photo to restore for a legally blind woman. She can only see if she holds the picture very close to her face. It's the only surviving photo of her grandmother. All the other photos were lost in a flood. I don't have the heart to charge her any money even though it took me almost 4 hours to do. It's a very large scan (over 300mb) so it can be blown up real big and hung over her TV where she can see it.

            The spiritual healing aspect of this business was an unexpected benefit for the client as well as for me.

            Here's a link to a small image:

            I really enjoyed doing this, and I hope I can do more for people who need that healing.


            • #7
              That's a very nice piece of work Emarts, and an interesting, if a little sad, story behind it.

              I have a question - Did the customer specify that you change the tone from sepia to straight B&W? The repair work you have done is excellent, but in my opinion the change in tone has somehow taken away the age aspect of the picture, and it seems to lose some authenticity.

              Last edited by Ian W; 01-01-2006, 08:21 PM. Reason: To clarify who the question is directed to.


              • #8
                No the customer did not specify that I change the tone. I have a toned version as well. But in my opinion, to retore the photo back to its original means to make it black and white again. But I will give her the option.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by emarts
                  But in my opinion, to retore the photo back to its original means to make it black and white again.
                  That's true! I didn't think of it like that - maybe keeping the yellowed image would be more of a repair than a restoration. The reason I asked was that I did a few family pics last year, and like you i restored it to black and white - the opinion of some was that the restoration made it look "too perfect" and preferred the sepia tone to keep a sense of how old the pics were.



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