Beginner Cat Photo Skills

How Do I Rescue an Old Photo?

Have you ever discovered an old photo you had forgotten about? Or when you are out clearing out old boxes or an attic you finding unexpected faded memories? Suddenly you find yourself lost in the past as thoughts come flooding back about the day, the time, who was there?

This happened to me, and I knew that I had to do something to preserve this memory beyond the paper original. So, I started thinking. How would any of us rescue an old photo like this, if we found one, and I came up with a seriously good solution you might want to consider.

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Let me tell you how the adventure started.

I discovered, carefully preserved inside a book, an old photograph of Dash Kitten, the blog’s Founder Cat. It was, thankfully, flat but had a bit of surface damage as well as a slightly yellow tint. This image was at least nine years old and it held some lovely memories. It is one of the rare full-face portraits I have of Dash Kitten.

  • How could I restore the photo so I could share it with Dash’s many friends who still remember him with so much affection?

I wanted to adjust the portrait so it was look fresh and bright. It deserved to be more than a slightly discoloured and damaged photograph with uneven white balance but how?

I had to admit that the image needed work and even with my photo skills, I decided to call in professional help in the form of a local photography shop. I decided that I wanted a high quality digital scan as well as a good quality print, neither of which I could create at home.

Portait of a honey coloured cat looking at the camera
DASH KITTEN PRINT © Marjorie Dawson

A Print Bureau Can Revive Your Photo

Yes, I know, you can scan your image and then spend a lot of time repairing surface scratches and sharpening the image yourself. If you have the time, and the photo software, and a good photo scanner – which I don’t have.

If you are like me, you reach a point that regardless of your skills you need to refer to those with more expertise than yourself.

What I did was go to a local photography bureau here in Lower Hutt, Camera House. They are a long established print house that are busy dealing with the recent surge in popularity of film cameras and development. Shops or franchises within larger shops are mushrooming everywhere thanks to film’s return to popularity so check your closes one online.

You probably have your own treasured memento hidden in a corner somewhere. A photo of you and your first cat, you as a small child on the beach, or a formal wedding photo of your Mum or Grandma looking their beautiful best. They are fragile paper and can fade so easily. But, with the help of professionals, you can breath life into these important pieces of family history.

Film cameras are very much a thing. I was given a Kodak Ektar H35 for Christmas which I will be exploring over the coming months!

Portait of a honey coloured cat looking at the camera in front of a ghostly clock
‘Lost in Time’ © Marjorie Dawson

My Renewed Photo of Dash Kitten

The digital image of Dash was returned to me a few days ago by email and, as you can see, the results are excellent.

The surface damage on the original has been removed and the picture looks as good as new. I have so few images of Dash Kitten that if I find one it is important for me to preserve the memories as best I can. I am so happy I found it and got help rescuing the image and I suggest you consider it to. Expert help can make a real difference.

It also, on a positive note has allowed me to start doing something Bode’s Mom Sylvia suggested I do several years ago, which is make a tribute to Dash.

How Do you Work with a Photo Bureau?

Involving a photo bureau to revive an older photo is an investment of your time and money. They will be able to ‘repair’ your original by creating a perfect copy with no bent corners then return the original and any copies to you.

  • A bureau can brighten or adjust colours or sharpen tones for a black and white image.

If you are not sure how to approach a local bureau, make a list of what you would like them to do. Maybe you want them to repair a digital image and print you a couple of copies? Make a list of things you might like then get a local business to quote you for the work. You will be supporting a company in your local community and be able to ring them up if you need to for advice.

If you are in a more isolated area, research online for the requirements of a bureau who work by post. Again be specific about what you want and be very particular about the safety of your image in transit to them and back to you. Look for recommendations. A company that has lots of happy customers not just one or two (which could be friends boosting friends). Research is essential if youwant to ensure you get good service.

You may not be able to stop time, but you can preserve and share precious memories with a little bit of help, just like Dash and I.

Oh my new film camera? Here’s a picture of it.

Image of camera and a roll of film in a box

10 thoughts on “How Do I Rescue an Old Photo?”

  1. WOW that is fantastic and I need to learn these tricks slowly but I keep doing the same things here, I must be boring LOL and I love the photos of Dash.

  2. This is such terrific information, Marjorie! Your tribute photo of Dash is so beautiful! I hope you frame it and hang it in a wonderful spot. Such a clever tribute photo!

    I remember years ago, I found really, really old photos of my mom’s family. I took those photos to a restorer and actually made copies of the final products (since the photos are so rare and fragile). Then I created a photo family tree. I had it framed and matted professionally and then gave it to my mom for a Christmas present. It made her cry happy tears when she opened it. She always said it was one of the best gifts she ever got. Every time she looked at the photos hanging on the wall she’d tear up again. It’s still hanging on the wall and reminds me of where it all started.

    I really do LOVE the idea of restoring old photos before they are lost.

  3. The photograph was restored and enhanced beautifully! They did a wonderful job. Oh, Dash, what a beauty! I have a slew of photos this will come in handy to do. Where I used to live, we had a wonderful photo place, and, they do mail orders, so yay! Now I just have to make the time to go through my photos (being a career photographer, I have so many photos! You know what I mean!) This would also work wonders for dogs, families, etc. I’m sharing this for others to see what photo magic can do to old photos (thankfully)!

    I love your new film camera! I still have mine and while unpacking, I have come across some mystery rolls of film! Looking forward to having them developed.

  4. Wow, that photo looks marvelous! We have lots of old pictures … And I still have my old film cameras …

  5. That photo of Dash looks great, Marjorie. It’s so wonderful that you were able to revive it! I have some old photos that I may explore reviving. Thanks for the good tips!

  6. That was super interesting and the photo came back looking great, bravo! Thanks for joining Angel Brian’s Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!


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