Digital Restoration of Painted Photographs

Before and after digital restoration of a deteriorating painted photograph. Image use courtesy of Kaufman family.

Before color film became widely available in the 1950’s, hand coloring photographs with various pigments was a popular way to artistically enhance or add realism to monochrome photographs.  In the case of portraits, over painting could almost completely obscure the underlying photographic image to give the impression of being a painting rather than a photograph.

Whether due to the instability of the base, the fragility of the pigments, or the poor adhesion between the two, heavily painted photographs on a white plastic base may deteriorate over time, causing the pigments and photographic emulsion to peel away from the support and dramatically degrade the image.

When the image is of a beloved family member, the loss can be felt greatly.  Restoring these unique objects digitally and producing high quality prints allows the image to not only be preserved, but also to be shared by more than one family member.

Before and after digital restoration. Image use courtesy of Lorimer Burns.


About albumenworks

Founded in Chicago in 1976 by Doug Munson and Joel Snyder, CAW moved to the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts in 1982. The Chicago Albumen Works puts decades of experience to work for some of the finest collections from around the world. A combination of technical expertise and historical perspective, operating in a controlled, conservation environment, directs our solutions to the diverse challenges presented by photograph collections. At CAW, the synergy of technical understanding, a conservator’s approach, an artist’s eye and a historian’s perspective creates a unique, productive, and collegial environment.
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