How to restore old photos from your family archive


Printed photos are fragile things that keep priceless memories. Years of exposure to humidity, water, sunlight, dirt, and even improper storage can cause significant damage to photographs.

Want to preserve old pictures of your ancestors for future generations? Or surprise your grandparents by bringing photos of their youth back to life? In this article, you’ll find 3 ways of restoring old photographs for any budget and skill level. 

Manual restoration

The manual restoration process is not that difficult but it’s time-consuming. First, use a soft-bristle brush to carefully clean your old photos of any dust or dirt. Don’t try to separate the pictures if some of them are stuck together. Instead, leave them soaking for 30 minutes in distilled water, which you can buy at any grocery store or pharmacy. Then, gently slide the photos apart and let them dry. Torn images can be repaired with acid-free tape, which you can find at any local stationery store. Don’t use regular acid adhesive tape as it can ruin your photograph over time.

Use specialised programmes

Afraid of messing up your original photos? Make digital copies and edit them with photo restoration software. This way you can not only return your old pictures to their original look but also remove all the defects and even colourise black and white ones. 

First, you need to digitise your old images. Scan them with your home printer or just shoot them with your camera. Then upload your photo to the editing software. Read on about the top 3 photo editors and choose the right one for you.


Want to bring your photos back to life without any hassle? Use PhotoGlory, a user-friendly yet comprehensive photo restoration software. Make coloring and remove stains, scratches, and creases as you like - automatically in a single click or manually using smart tools. Also, straighten your tilted pictures, crop damaged corners, assemble together ripped-apart images, and turn negatives into positives quickly and easily. You can try out its functionality for free during a 5-day trial. It costs from $19.25 to $39.20 for a lifetime and an unlimited number of photos, depending on the number of available features. 


Speaking of editing software, you can't leave out Photoshop. This Adobe program is feature-rich and extremely powerful, so you’ll find everything you need to restore your old family images. However, if you’re unfamiliar with Photoshop or have little editing experience, then it can be quite challenging for you because of its complicated workflow. Plus, it’s quite costly for infrequent use since you need to purchase a subscription from $20.99/month after a 7-day free trial. 


Want an intuitive photo editor that you can not only use to repair old photos of your relatives but also to retouch your modern images? Opt for PhotoWorks. Eliminate all the imperfections that have appeared over time with the help of 3 retouching tools. Sharpen your blurry images, cut away torn corners, and apply retro filters. Plus, you may retouch portraits, change the image's background, and enhance the overall picture’s appearance effortlessly. You can get it for $19.25/year or $79.80 for a lifetime after a 5-day free trial.

Seek professional help

If your family photos are in a rather bad condition and you're not sure if you can fix them on your own, leave this task to professionals. Finding a retouching master or online service is not that difficult, as there are now countless offers of this kind. 

First of all, you need to decide on a method of restoration - digital or manual. As for the manual one, it requires your original paper photographs, so you have to find the best restoration expert. If you don't want to risk your single-printed copies, then you can hire someone to retouch digital versions of your photographs. Here you have several options - find an online service with expert artists or hire a freelancer to save some money.

Speaking of money. Unfortunately, photo restoration services are expensive and might not be affordable for some people. Another downside is that photos of your ancestors would be exposed to strangers. Ask yourself if this is acceptable for you. But still, it can be a good option, especially for those who have little editing skills or no free time for this.


Now you know how to restore old photographs from your family archive in 3 ways. Choose the one that best suits your needs, budget, and skill level. Don't be afraid of restoration. Surprise your relatives by refreshing their old photos.



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