In previous posts we talked about the basics of storing old photographs and documents, preparing your workspace, why create digital images of old printed photos, and a few of the tools you will need.
If all of this sounds daunting to you, and you have the cash, consider delivering your heritage photos to a professional photograph conservator. Keep in mind that converting photographs to digital format takes time, and can be expensive. Be wary of quick-turn-around places. Suppose you have a few concerns about handing over your photographs to someone else. How do you know they know what they are doing and have the right equipment? How can you be sure your images will be carefully taken care of, and no damage will be done by neglect or accident?
Resolving Trust Issues
I recommend a couple different ways to find a trust-worthy company. The one you choose should have…
· Proper training
· Good equipment
· Lots of experience
· What their specialty is
· Positive recommendations from customers
· Instructions for how to properly ship and handle your items
· Explanations of how they ensure quality work
Go to the American Institute for Conservation and click on the Find a Conservator link. You can also find a list of private companies that do archival work at the Regional Alliance for Preservation. You could also do an internet search using terms like…
· Family papers
· Family photos
You Said Jazz Concert? I Thought You Said Jazz Dance!
Also keep in mind that equally trained and experienced professionals may disagree in their methods and their results for what is best. Different professionals may have very different results in image appearance. Some may alter/restore images a great deal so the digital image has modern coloring and every mark and flaw removed. Others keep discolorations and photo wear and tear as part of the photograph’s story. They may feel that removing the look of age from a photo is not wanted.
Before you embark on this journey of finding the right professional conservator for your projects, know what you are wanting for each image. Communicate every detail of what you want and take nothing for granted. This phrase has been heard at our house a time or two; “I can’t read your mind, honey. Use your words and be clear.” Wink. You will want to know and agree beforehand what procedure will be used, what the cost is and what the timeline to completion is. Make sure you see treatment report documents after completion.
Not quite sure you have found the right professional to help you? Try them out by sending one object to work on. If you like their process and their result, then you can feel comfortable sending more work their way.
All this while keeping in mind our goals:
· Goal I: Create beautiful original or restored digital images.
· Goal II: Preserve original images and keepsakes in the best way possible.
Now you know some guidelines for hiring a professional conservator. Let's say, however, you’ve decided you want to do this yourself. The next post is for you.
Next Post: The Do-It-Yourself-ers
Going Digital (link coming soon)
Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out jenniferapffel.com, albaphotography.net, or look for her on fineartamerica.com.