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The Impossible Restoration

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  • The Impossible Restoration

    This forum has been taking a break lately. Time to get it up and running again. A woman came to you with a photo of her great, great grandmother and her husband. It is the only photo surviving that she knows of, but the face on the grandmother is *totally* lacking any information. She asks you to restore it to the best of your ability. How do you handle it? Do you explain that you can't restore her face, but you can do something for the rest of the photo? Do you tell her it's a waste of money? Do you ask her if you can put someone else's head on her? What do you do? Do you do the job and hope she's not too disappointed, or do you simply walk away from the job?


  • #2
    I tell her to bring me a picture of a face she wants in the restored photo. If she doesn't know what grandma looks like, how could I? With no face at all, I'd recommend skipping it, but if she insisted...
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning


    • #3
      Ouch,Ed --thats a can of worms. I suppose right off I would explain the difference between a restoration, which to me means working only with what ever image data is avaliable from the original photo (in spite of the lack there of) and a manipulation, or, "Frankenpicture" where parts are borrowed from other photos to repair the customers item. Then explain what they can reasonably expect as to the finished product, done both ways. I would probably, in the case you outline, suggest that what can be restored be restored but no manipulation, as that would destroy the historical value of the photo unless dated very precisely and only exact matches for missing items were substituted, a daunting task in the very least. In short, no image--no restore, only the possibility of a manipulation, and when dealing with faces a very tricky chore. Tom


      • #4
        I agree with Doug and Tom. We're not magicians. You'd have to get a second picture.

        Perhaps, you could request a photo of someone else in the family who looks just like the person, and take the job with an understanding that you are manipulating, not restoring.

        For something like this, I would request partial payment. I don't charge customers if they don't like the work, but doing futile work is not for me. If she insists, you should at least be compensated for your efforts.

        This reminds me of a similiar experience I had. I requested a reference photo (just in case) to repair damage to the eyes. The photo was of the mother as a child, the second "reference" photo I was given was a photo of the mother as an elderly woman. Needless to say, it was pretty usless. Luckily, I was able to make the repairs from the original.


        • #5
          Interesting question. I would have to agree with previously mentioned comments. Ask for a second photo of the person and preferabbly with the same sort of profile shot that is in the image to be worked upon. First though you would talk with the client to see what they were really after - restoring that photo exactly or just the person in that photograph. Then of course explain that while computers are fantastic, there are some limitations.


          • #6
            I recently finished a job of a water damaged wedding photo. After talking to the client for a while I found out there was one other full copy and a one print that had been cropped. All had been water damaged but in different places. She had only brought the least damaged for me to work with. Between the three a very good final was made.

            It pays to ask questions.


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