While restoring my own family photos, I realized how important it is to preserve our past, to conserve our heritage. Each photo has it's own unique challenges and tells an individual story. There is something rewarding that happens as you bring a picture back to life, watching each layer emerge as you enhance the colors, reveal hidden elements, recreate and fill in the missing pieces.
Of course, you can always scan your photos or download them from your camera and run an auto correcting program (see samples on right). You could upload to a "Photoshop Farm" or computer site that processes thousands of photos, many of which rely heavily on automated technology alone, and/or outsourcing to third parties who are paid for quantity not quality. You'll find the Internet is filled with self-proclaimed restorationists who own a scanner and photo editing software. Maybe it will be an improvement.
But your pictures can look better, perhaps even better than when they were first taken.
I look at each individual photo, the composition, the lights, the shadows, and try to improve the overall visual effect while enhancing the featured portrait, subject or landscape. Instead of a quick "paint in" of missing pieces and scratches, I prefer to use information that's still available within the photograph (even if it's harder to find) maintaining the original integrity. It takes an artist's eye, combined with the willingness to explore different avenues of correction, to achieve the best outcome possible, the most visually pleasing and realistic result.
Automated vs Professional (click on images)
not only the photo,
but the memories too.