How to restore old or damaged photos Best photo restoration tips for old photos


The lockdown has given us a big head start on Spring cleaning, being stuck at home with nothing else to do. If you’ve come across a box of old photographs, damaged and collecting dust in the attic, don’t worry, all is not lost yet.

If you want to restore old and damaged photos and transform them into digitally reconstructed images, but not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got some great tips to restore physical photographs, breathing new life to them in the digital world. 


Steps to restore old photographs using Photoshop

Step 1: Scan your old photograph

The first step is to transform your physical photograph into digital form by scanning. Before you scan the photos, make sure that they are free of all dirt and dust to the best of your ability so that this doesn’t reflect on the digital image.


Step 2: Understand the extent of damage

The next step is to assess the amount of work that the image requires. Is it just faded or are the torn bits missing from the picture? Formulate a plan of action and the order of corrections. It’s best to correct the overall image first before you move on to specific areas of damage. 


Photograph restoration

Step 3: Crop the image

Always crop your photograph before you start the repair process so that you don’t have to work with unnecessary elements. Use print resolution so that your image prints in the size you have set. 


Step 4: Fix faded colours

Old prints often have faded and worn out colours. To bring back some depth to the image start off with auto-colour, auto-tone and auto-contrast features. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can use the Burn tool to zoom in and burn the darker features to make them stand out. 


Step 5: Noise reduction

If your image has a lot of graininess or scratches, the quickest way to correct this is to use the noise reduction tool. It won’t dramatically heal your image but works well on slight imperfections. 


Restoring old photographs

Step 6: Repair damages

To zero down on small damages in an image and repair them takes a lot of patience. The best way to rebuild an image and repair its damage is by using a combination of the patch tool, clone stamp and spot healing brush.


Step 7: Review the image and make corrections

The devil is in the details so make sure you zoom in and go over every bit of the image to ensure you haven’t missed any damaged portion. Make sure you zoom in pretty tight as this will help you repair with less noticeable clicks for a clean finish. 


Step 8: Print and admire

After all your corrections have been made you can choose to leave the image in digital form, but also print one out to see how the restoration looks in physical form. It can be such a satisfactory process to restore an old photo from physical to physical, and the rest of the family will love it too. Take a moment to pat yourself in the back, for rescuing a dying memory. 


Yes, that’s a lot of technical tips to take in but we promise it’s quite easy once you get started. So go ahead and fish out some of those vintage, tattered photos and try your hand at restoring them. 

Whether your photos are faded, torn or discoloured, digital tools can help rebuild them to a certain extent. If your old photos are damaged beyond reparation, you might need a professional to take the wheel on this one. 



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