There’s a reason we’re so passionate about photo preservation and all things restoration. Put simply, It’s to ensure valuable memories can be treasured and enjoyed for as long as possible! For this blog we wanted to talk about one of the first customers that approached The Memory Lab which helped to shape the ethos of our business.

Helen came to us in March of 2021 with an album of severely damaged photos. The photos had fallen foul to water damage after her home was subject to a horrendous flood in the 1980’s. A lot of cherished belongings were destroyed or badly damaged, not least the family’s treasured collection of photo albums that had been stored away. Many of the photos feature Helen’s dear Mum, who she sadly lost when she was young, so the emotional significance of these precious photos is beyond measure. We felt a real sense of responsibility to attempt to restore these photos which could in some way, help to disguise the painful memories of the flood. 

Water damaged photo.

Restored by The Memory Lab.

Here’s what we did:

  • We digitised the images at super-high resolution 600dpi on our flatbed scanner, ensuring all-important image clarity and saved each one as an uncompressed TIFF file.
  • We then imported each TIFF into Adobe Photoshop and set about repairing the damage.
  • We used a variety of tools to comb through the image and remove image defects – using layering methods, the healing brush and patch tool where needed.
  • We rebuilt parts of the images by using content-aware cloning techniques and painted in parts ourselves, by colour-matching as closely as possible.
  • We sharpened the images over a high-pass filter.
  • We addressed colour-balance and contrast where required.

This particular workflow was repeated on each of the 45 images with each photo presenting it’s own set of unique challenges. For the less damaged images we spent around 20-30 minutes fixing and perfecting, but for the more severe cases it was around 50 minutes or more. In essence, we spent our time getting things looking as accurate and true to the original as they could be, irrespective of how long it took. It’s what the photos deserve, and of course what Helen’s family deserve when they browse through these priceless moments. 

Photo preservation is different every time and the process is dependent on a variety of different factors like the age and fragility of the image, as well as the level of damage which is why we offer a flexible “tier system” upon using our Photo Restoration service. Essentially, you determine the level of damage-repair you think your image requires and we go from there – it’s as simple as that.

And luckily, having a variety of techniques and digital tools available to us alongside experience of best-practice, we are able to use a range of methods to obtain the best out of each image. It can be time-consuming, and at times extremely challenging but seeing these precious moments in family history get re-discovered and knowing you’ve helped to achieve that  is a wonderful feeling.