Should You Have Old Photos Retouched When Having Them Scanned?

19 February 2021
 Categories: , Blog

Scanning old physical photographs into digital form helps preserve the photos in case the originals are lost. Because the photos are now being turned into digital files, you have the opportunity to retouch or fix them. For much older photos that have faded, this retouching can bring out new detail, but it can also make the picture look like it's been retouched if the person using the software goes overboard with the tools. Plus retouching takes time. So, when you're having photos scanned, should you try to have some or all of them retouched?

How Faded Are the Old Photos?

Sometimes photos are very faded, so it's hard to see a lot of detail. Retouching can add just enough detail back in so that you get a better idea of what the original photo looked like. Other photos aren't faded from excessive age but instead from sun exposure, such as those that sat in frames near a window that got direct sunlight. These generally show a lot of detail but look washed out. Retouching could help restore the photos to their previous glory.

But some photos are simply a bit old and maybe not as bright as before, and retouching could make very little difference. In those cases, you might not want to retouch the photos.

What Exactly Needs Fixing?

Another issue is what needs fixing. If you have a lot of photos with the dreaded red-eye effect, those would be easy to fix so that the digital versions no longer have the glowing red points that can look so strange. If the issue is that the photos are from many decades ago and don't seem very clear because that's how the technology was at the time the photo was taken, retouching (in the sense of increasing contrast and adding shading) isn't going to help.

Can You Get a Scanned Copy of the Untouched Photo, Too?

Do find out if you can get a scanned version of the unretouched photo, too, and see if that would cost extra. Old photos have an atmosphere about them that retouching can destroy. Even if the retouched photo looks great, it's kind of like the difference between listening to a long-playing record and a CD. The clarity of the sound on the CD may be terrific, but there's something about those scratches in the background on the album that really bring back memories. It can be nice to have a copy of the unretouched photo that you can send to family and friends, too.

To learn more, contact an online photo scanning service.