Last Updated on November 3, 2023 by sourav sahu
We all have old photos that are close to our hearts. These photos could be of our family, friends, or special moments that we have lived. All these photos might not remain the same in the long run.
Problems like fading, stains, tears, and even mold can take away the charm of these precious photos. But still, some old photos are precious.
But do not worry, we have good news for you. You can restore these old photos easily. The process that helps in bringing back the life of these old photos is called photo restoration.
Photo restoration fixes the damages in old photos. It makes them look new and vibrant again. But the photo restoration comes with a cost and this cost depends on many things. It depends on who you hire for the restoration and what condition your photo is in.
The Factors Influencing Restoration Costs
The first thing that comes to mind when you decide to do old photo restoration is the cost. When I wanted to restore the old images, I always thought how much will it cost to bring back the original memories? As of my research, the cost of photo restoration is not fixed. It changes based on several things.
Restoration Method: The method you choose for photo restoration plays a big role in the cost. There are different ways to restore photos.
You can do it yourself, hire a professional, use software, or use AI technology. Each of these methods has its own cost. You may do it yourself and it will be the cheapest but it needs time and skill.
If you hire a professional then it may give the best results but it will cost more. Software and AI technology offer a middle ground. They are not very expensive and give good results.
Service Provider: Different service providers ( Professionals or AI services ) have different prices. Some will offer better quality and charge more. Others may offer lower prices but the quality might not be as good.
Condition of Original Photos: If your photos have small problems like minor fading or small tears, then they can be solved easily. But if it has big issues like major stains, mold, or missing parts then it will cost more. The math is simple, the more work needed to fix the photo, the higher the cost.
Size and Complexity of Photos: The size of the photo and how complex it is also affects the cost. A big photo with many details will definitely cost more to restore than a small and simple photo. A photo with many people or a complex background will need more work to restore. So, it will cost more.
Special Requests: If you have special requests like you want to change the background, add color to a black and white photo, or add or remove people then it will affect the revenue you need. These special requests need extra work and time. So, they will increase the total budget for photo restoration.
DIY Photo Restoration:
If your budget is tight then doing photo restoration yourself is a good choice. It will take your time but if you see the bright side then you will find that you are learning a new skill that will be helpful in the future.
Tools Required: If you are starting then you need the right tools. The basic tools you need are a good scanner and photo editing software. Your scanner will help to get a digital copy of your old photo and a good scanner can cost around $100 to $200.
Many people use Adobe Photoshop for editing as it is a powerful tool that can help fix many problems in your photos. Photoshop costs around $20 to $53 per month based on the plan you choose. Otherwise, you can also use free tools like GIMP.
Learning the Skills: Now, you need to learn how to use the tools because just like other skills, photo restoration is also a skill. You have to learn how to fix common problems like fading, stains, and tears.
You can find many online tutorials that can help. You will easily get free videos on YouTube or you can go for paid courses on websites like Udemy. Though learning the basics might take a few days or weeks, however, it will depend on the speed and the time you are giving.
The Restoration Process: After you complete the above tasks, you can start the process. Just scan the old photo to get a digital copy and then use the software to fix the problems. You can remove stains, fix tears, and bring back the colors. This process can take a few hours to a few days for each photo and it also depends on the photo condition and your skill level.
Time Investment: As I have said many times, DIY photo restoration needs time. You need time to learn the skills and time to do the restoration. If you enjoy this kind of work, it can be a fun project but if you are busy then it will be a headache for you.
Cost Overview: The main cost of DIY photo restoration is the tools and learning resources. If you have the tools and skills then the cost for each photo is very low. But if you look at the other side, then you will find that the time cost is high. You need to think about the value of your time when you choose DIY photo restoration.
Results: The results you get completely depend on your skills. With practice, you can get good results but still, it will be hard to match the quality of a professional.
Professional Photo Restoration:
We have explored many things about “Do it yourself restoration”. And now let me tell you what professional photo restoration is and how it is different from the previous one.
Professional photo restoration is when you hire an expert to restore your old photos. These experts have a lot of experience and they know how to bring back the original look of old photos. They use advanced tools and techniques to fix damage.
How to Find a Professional: Professional Photo restoration needs a good professional. You can ask for recommendations from friends or family or from your nearby online photo studios.
You can also search online using different freelancing websites, Facebook groups, Reddit communities, etc. If you are looking for professionals online, then try to find them with good reviews and a portfolio of their work. This will give you an idea of the quality of their work.
Cost of Professional Restoration: The cost to restore a photo by a professional can range from $25 to $100 or sometimes even more per photo.
I have already mentioned, that the cost depends on the professional you choose, the condition of the photo, and the size of the photo. Simple fixes will cost less while major restoration work will cost more.
Time Frame: It can take a few days to a few weeks for professionals to restore a photo. It depends on how busy the professional is and how much work your photo needs.
Some professionals offer rush services with unsatisfactory results ( if you want quick results ). They may also ask for extra money for this.
Quality of Work: The quality of work you get from a professional is generally very high. They have the skills to make the restored photo look natural. The colors will be vibrant, and the damage will be improved to a great extent. Your old photos will look new again.
Benefits and Drawbacks: A professional will definitely make your job easy and less stressful and you will also get high-quality restoration. But the downside is it comes at a higher cost.
Is it Worth the Cost?: If your budget is enough and if your photo requires a lot of work, then yes, it will be worth the cost.
Software-Assisted Photo Restoration
There is a middle ground between the DIY approach and the professional approach and that is called software-assisted photo restoration:
This method uses special software to help restore old photos and it has built-in features that can automatically fix common problems in photos like scratches, stains, and fading.
There are many software tools available for photo restoration and as of my research, Adobe Photoshop Elements is a popular choice which costs around $100. These software tools offer different features to help restore old photos.
Even though these software tools are designed to be user-friendly, they still need a manual touch. You will need to spend some time learning how to use the software to restore photos.
If you are ready to learn and do a bit of work but also want to keep the costs down then you can definitely choose this option. It’s a good option if you want to learn software and have a good number of photos to restore.
AI in Photo Restoration Process
As Technology is advancing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is booming, it has entered into many fields. Whether it is to unblur an image or to remove the background of an image now AI is like a friend to you. Similarly, AI can make photo restoration quick, affordable, and easy.
AI photo restoration is a method where AI technology is used to restore old photos. With machine learning, AI algorithms can automatically identify and fix basic issues in photos.
Various AI tools like AiPassportPhotos and VanceAI are available for photo restoration and they are getting popular day by day.
You do not even need to download software, as they offer online services where you can upload your photo, and their AI will restore it. The cost can range from $5 to $30 per photo which makes it a very affordable option.
AI tools use machine learning to learn from lots of data on how a restored photo should look. They then apply this learning to restore your old photos.
One of the big advantages of AI photo restoration is the speed. Once you upload your photo, the AI tool can restore it in just a few minutes. This is much faster compared to other methods.
Quality of Restoration: The quality of AI photo restoration is improving at a faster rate as the technology gets better. Even though the result will not match the quality of a skilled professional and it can sometimes lack the natural look that a human touch can provide, I still believe it will improve a lot in the future.
So, if you are looking for a quick, easy, and affordable way to restore old photos and you are excited to try new technology then just go for it.
Coming towards the Best Value:
If you are paying for anything then you would want to get the best value from it. But how can you get the best value if you have a lot of options? It will be really confusing, right? Well, do not worry, I am here to help you. Here are some steps to help you get good value:
Compare Different Providers and Methods: Look at all the options we discussed. Compare according to your requirements like you can compare the costs, the time needed, and the quality you can expect. Every method has its own benefits and demerits. Think about what is most important to you. Is it the cost, the quality, or the time?
Bulk Orders: If you want to restore many photos then try to get a bulk order as bulk orders get more discount. Some professional restorers or AI services offer discounts when you have many photos. This can save you a good amount of money.
Set a Budget: Know how much you are ready to spend as having a budget will help you make a good decision. It will also help you talk to professional restorers and negotiate a good price.
Ask for Samples: Always ask for samples whenever you buy any service online. If you are going to a professional tell them to show their previous works. If you are using software or AI, try restoring one or two photos first to see the results ( By using their trial or free version ).
Be Clear on Your Expectations: Always be clear on what you want the restored photo to look like. If you have special requests, properly explain them. If you know what to expect and you do proper communication beforehand, it won’t make any further disappointments.
The right choice for photo restoration mainly depends on your unique situation. Your budget, the condition of your photos, the quality you desire, and the time you have are all factors that will guide your decision. Once you understand the costs involved and the value each method offers, you can make an informed decision.
If you ask me, then I will definitely go for AI. The reason is that there is a lot of flexibility in this technology and it is improving every day.