By Scott Garascia
Photo Restoration……: the act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.
When I started working here at Schiller’s Camera in 2007 I was lucky enough to fill a vacancy doing retouch work. It was tuff going for awhile (I was still teaching myself Photoshop) but the more retouching I did, the more I learned. Not to say I’m not still learning, that is a forever going process.
A co-worker here at Schiller’s calls me “The Miracle Worker”. Retouching old photos is not really a miracle but I suppose computer programs such as Photoshop are somewhat of a miracle, at least to me. I cannot draw or paint but with Photoshop I can repair a photograph using those techniques. A lot of times I surprise myself with what I have done to bring back a photo that looks un-repairable. Figure one below is just one of those “I’m not sure I can” projects that turned out fine. Whew!
Retouching “back in the day” I used a 4×5 film camera to capture a photo that needed retouching. I would then make an 11×14 or 16×20 inch print for an “air-brush artist” to repair and then make another 4×5 film negative to print the retouched photo. To me it was a miracle to see the end result of the air brushed photo. The few artists I worked with were very talented. Of course today it’s all done digitally with scanners, computers and Photoshop. The process is the same. Change 4×5 film-negative to scanning, change air brushing to Photoshop and finally another film negative to a CD for final printing.
My favorite part of working as a retouch artist is listening to the stories behind the photographs. No matter when the photo was taken, 2 years ago or 100 years ago, a photo does say 1000 words. Some are so fascinating they take on the story of a movie or novel. Many have taught me more of the history of St. Louis than any text book. Also I have gotten the “old photo collecting bug” while doing this work but that’s another story. I’ve been a old camera collector since I was a teen.
Come to think of it…..my co-worker, the one who calls me “The Miracle Worker”, we are both Star Trek fans, my name is Scott or Scotty and there’s Scotty “The Miracle Worker” aboard the Enterprise…..