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What restoration means to you

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  • What restoration means to you

    Forgive my pensive moment, but I wonder what photo restoration means to you?

    I don't mean in a business or technical sense, but in a larger context.

    For me it's like rescueing a memory. Have you ever been going along, minding your own business, then hear something, or smell something, and suddenly you remember something that you didn't even know you'd forgotten? Will you forget it once more?

    Or preserving history. Not even our own history, directly, but someone else's. We have these moments, they actually happened, but perhaps the only proof is this fading silver record. And if someone doesn't step in and save it, it will be gone, forever.

    And what of the viewer, perhaps someone unrelated to the subject? Can you look at an old photograph, into the eyes of someone long gone, into a moment of their world, and not come away just a fraction deeper than you were? What goes through your mind when you look at anonymous old snapshots, such as found in our Archive?

    And the restorer. Surely hours of analysing and working over someone else's memory has to have some lasting effect.

    We not only rescue these moments, but underline and preserve them. Each restoration is a moment that stands a chance of lasting, a chance it didn't have before. A moment that can now be shared and cherished.
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning

  • #2
    For me it's about telling our family history

    For me, restoration is an important part of preserving and telling our family history for future generations. My vision is to tell our history by combining imagery and storyline. I've included a link to one example at the bottom of this post.

    My mother, now in her late 70's, is the primary keeper of our family history. Over the years she has collected (some originals, and some copies) of old family photo from other relatives.

    She also has notes she made from talking to her mother and other relatives. Some of the photos have no writing on the back, but Mom knows the who, when, where, and why of most of these pictures. It is important that we get this family history that she knows written down for future generation.

    The condition of some of the older photos is so detoriated that the memory they possess is tetering on being lost.

    So what I am doing, is restoring our oldest photos and then using them to develop 8.5x11 album pages (or 8x10's that can be framed) that combine one or more images and some words to tell a mini version of the family history that goes with those images.

    Here's one example. My Uncle had this 1907 "Real Photo Card" of my Grandfather logging in Oklahoma. It is the only copy in the family. I borrowed it to scan. I created three images: the front, the back, and a cropped enlargement of my Grandfather. I combined the three images and words to tell the history behind the images.

    I print it on an 8.5x11 photo paper, and put it in a sheet protect and give it that way, with the instructions that should they want to hang it, it is sized for an 8x10 matte or frame. Some family members want to hang them on the wall, while others prefer to keep them in an album.

    Mom reviews my photo restorations, and the story line that accompanies them. She is good with detail and provides valuable feedback. It gives us both a great deal of satisfaction to see an old photo restored and complete with story line.

    I enjoy telling our family history thorough imagery and storyline. I think it makes it easier and more interesting for the younger generation. They might not read a genealogy manuscript, but they will read a short paragraph about an interesting photo.

    An aside: My Great niece was here the other day. I have her one of my goofs that she could color. She loved it. She was coloring a photo of her GGG.Grandparents. She is 2-1/2 years old.



    • #3

      That was GREAT! What a job!

      My mother was one of sixteen children. She had several old photos of the family, and one day I decided to write to her remaining sisters and brother to see if they had any old photos. I asked them to send them to me so that I could copy them. I recieved a couple of tintypes, and at least one of them was made before 1900. There were several other photos, all of which were copied around 1980. I was able to make some improvements via the wet darkroom, but nothing close to what Photoshop offers. Working on some of them in Photoshop made me feel like I could salvage them for future generations. My mother died in 1985, and the only remaining sibling is her youngest brother. He is now close to 90. I would love to see him again. I haven't seen him since 1951, and we live quite a distance from each other. I'm not even sure that he would remember me. But the family photos will be around (I hope) long after I'm gone. There is one of my grandmother when she was 16, and another of her as a baby. Many of these appear in the archives on this web site.

      Your post card gives me incentive to do something on that order. Thanks for sharing.



      • #4
        Great Job on the photo and also saving the written side as well. So important to relate the image to a story. You have it all figured out. It's about mapping your history and sharing with the elders in the family while their memories are still there and passing them on to the next generation. It's who we are and what we are.

        I do the same thing. I find myself looking deeply into the faces of the restorations I am doing and almost becoming them. I think of what they might have been thinking or how they may have been living at the time. The saying "A picture paints a thousand words" is so true. I love snooping into the lives of all those old photos as much as I love bringing them back to life.


        • #5
          as the antique images reveal themselves under my pen, both the preciousness and the fleetingness of life become very real. their struggles, victories, failures, and most of all, their hope, the same, the very same, as mine. they are a "cloud of witnesses" of and to me.

          the restorer helps to make their message heard.

          thank you for such a thought-provoking question.


          • #6
            I look at restoring as giving back a memory, too.

            Whenever I smell cherry pipe tobacco and peppermints, I'm instantly taken back to sitting on my grandpa's lap. He always kept peppermints in his pockets (for his horses--they loved them) and he smoked a cherry-tobacco pipe. If someone could give that back, I'd be sold in an instant. So I look at what I can do for other people and their pictures and feel a tremendous reward every time I hear someone say "Wow! We had been so upset because this was the only picture we had of mom/dad/grandma/aunt/best friend and it got water/fire/sun damaged. We thought we'd never see it whole again."

            Makes me feel pretty good. Then I get paid, too, and I feel REALLY good! It's nice to get paid for something you'd do for free.



            • #7
              Ed, I'm so glad that you like my album page concept and are inspired to do something similar with your old photos!

              I started out just restoring the images and that was great. Then I went to developing 8.5x11 in. album pages with one or more restored photos plus storyline, and family members told me on how much they appreciated having the story right on the photo. So, I felt like that was working. I would fill all the printable region which worked well because they were stored in sheet protectors with built-in 3 holes.

              Then I discovered that my sister-in-law was taking the 8.5x11 album pages and trying to fit them into 8x10 frames and sometimes the end result wasn't good. So I got the idea of developing dual purpose pages. Print on 8.5x11 page for photo albums, but design the image for an 8x10 frame or mat (7.5x9.5 image plus 1/4" border). I make the border gray or other neutral color. For an 8x10 frame without mat, you can cut on the outside of the border and it will fit perfectly.

              Lately I've been doing most in the dual purpose format. I'm also encouraged to see that I can compress the album page down to a size that for the web, and that the text is sufficiently readable.



              • #8
                Sounds great Lilla. Thanks.



                • #9
                  Try the Dead Fred link on our links page
                  Learn by teaching
                  Take responsibility for learning


                  • #10
                    I think this is loveliest description of what restoration of a special photograph could mean to someone.

                    From the restoration website that Doug admired in another thread:

                    "I long to have such a memorial of every being dear to me in the world. It is not merely the likeness which is precious in such cases – but the association and the sense of nearness involved in the thing ... the fact of the very shadow of the person lying there fixed forever! It is the very sanctification of portraits I think – and it is not at all monstrous in me to say, what my brothers cry out against so vehemently, that I would rather have such a memorial of one I dearly loved, than the noblest artist's work ever produced."

                    -Elizabeth Barrett (1843,letter to Mary Russell Mitford)

                    The part about "the very shadow of the person lying there fixed forever!" is a step further than I've ever thought about a photo, making it not just a likeness frozen in time, but truly a PART of that person left behind. I realize now that I've felt some of that as I look at photos of people/animals who are deceased or so far away that we'll likely never meet again -- I still have THEM close to me, not just a picture of them.


                    • #11
                      CJ, that was great! I know where you're coming from, and I could tell you a little story, but if I did I'd probably wind up in the looney bin!



                      • #12
                        Now, Ed, you know you can't just expect me to let that statement lie there. Puleeeeze, tell me a story!

                        (I used to be a counselor, so I'll help you get out of the loony bin).


                        • #13
                          Okay, but don't forget your promise! I have a photo of one of my aunts who died (at 17 years old) more than 20 years before I was born. She was one of 16 children, most of whom I remember. But for some strange reason since I got her picture, I've felt closer to her than any of my other aunts or uncles. Pleeeeez don't give my address to the guys in the white coats!



                          • #14
                            As some of you know, I primarly run a portrait studio and do a lot of copying and restoration of old photos on the side. About two weeks ago we redid our portrait pricing and info pamphlet. We changed it over to read in part:

                            "Many of us have a copy of an old, old portrait of our family. Maybe its one of those large groups with all the family gathered round. Could be those little kids in the front are your parents, or even your grandparents. With the passing of time many of those people have now grown old and a good many of them are gone, which makes the value of that window into your past beyond calculation. What will your great-grandchildren have of you?"

                            I hope that you all do not get so wropped up in your past that you forget to take care of your great-grandkids past also.



                            • #15
                              Ed, I've had "instant rapport" with a few people in my life, and see no reason why you couldn't have it with a family member via a photograph. One of my cousins was killed in WWII, and all I've ever seen of him is a photo -- a photo of a happy, friendly young man who would be appealing even if he wasn't related. I've always felt great affection for this forever young man -- I know that part of it is based on the feelings of other family members who loved him (and love him still), but it is also based on a connection to the man I see in the photo -- a man that I love, but have never, and will never, meet.

                              Such an important point -- we need to protect treasures of our heritage and create new treasures for the generations to come. Maybe I should go get a portrait done!


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