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… 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…..

That’s funny.