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How To Restore A Faded Photo: A Complete Guide
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How To Restore A Faded Photo: A Complete Guide

If your old, faded photos have been sitting untouched in your drawer for decades, you may think it impossible to restore them to their original condition.

However, your memories don’t have to fade along with each photo’s clarity and color. 

The good news is that you can learn about the best techniques for restoring a faded photo yourself or with a professional’s help. In this guide, you’ll understand why photographs fade and what you can do about it. 

If you value a professional touch, Image Restoration Center can restore your faded photo today.

Reasons Why Your Old Photos Fade

1. Light Damage

Many images will lose their definition over time because their dyes and tones become exposed to UV rays and harsh sun or light. When sunlight comes into contact with the pigments on an old photo, it disturbs the molecules in the plastic material. As these molecules vibrate, they begin to break down. From there, photo deterioration occurs.

To learn how to keep pictures from fading in the sun, check out our article here.

A faded photo collection

2. Air Exposure

Even the cleanest of spaces will be home to some microscopic toxins. Frequent air exposure puts your photographs at risk of becoming damaged by micro-particles, dust, and chemicals. 

If you frequently use cleaning chemicals, these can cling to the surface of your images, causing them to fade over time. Make sure you clean your photos using photo-safe products.

3. Mold & Fungus

Most people don’t like to think they’re housing fungus where they’re storing their photographs – but these things happen more frequently than you think. In fact, mold can spread as quickly as just 24 hours! If your home doesn’t undergo regular inspections or is often exposed to the sun, mold can damage your images quicker than you’d expect.

4. Improper Storage

Two of your old photos’ greatest enemies are moisture and acidity. Contrary to popular belief, mounting your pictures on frames with tape adhesives can cause acid burn, creating a yellowish appearance. 

Even worse, storing your faded photo albums in humid areas subject them to pollutants such as mold and dust. Avoid keeping your old photos in flimsy cardboard boxes or a part of your home with harsh sunlight.

5. Water Damage

Water damage can cause the colors in your photos to leak and stain other areas of the image. Prioritize acting fast as soon as you recover your damaged photographs. 

Dry your photo albums on an absorbent material such as paper towels, avoiding the sunlight. You can also layer them between wax paper. Do not use printed paper such as a newsletter, whose ink can bleed into your faded photo.

How Can You Restore Faded Photos?

Store Your Photos Properly

The best way to protect your already damaged photos is to start storing them correctly. Because photo prints are porous, you won’t want to keep them against materials like printed newspapers or cardboard. Instead, opt for PVC-pocket albums meant for long-term storage.

How and where you mount your photos makes more of a difference than you’d anticipate! First, you’ll want to choose an acid-free mount or panel to prevent yellowing and place your old photo away from problem areas, such as where your house gets a lot of sun. 

Other places in the home you’ll want to avoid hanging up your photo are the attic, bathroom, or basement, where moisture tends to gather.

A photo of a photo album to prevent faded photos

How To Restore Faded Color Photos in Photoshop

To fix faded photos, many photo restoration software is available online, such as Adobe Photoshop or Snapseed. You can easily restore the colors in your images by following each step: 

  1. First, open up Photoshop, working with two layers to track your progress. You can toggle between these layers as you perform each step. If necessary, you can create more than one layer to edit a specific area on your image.
  2. Use the auto color option, switching between the hue and saturation slider to make adjustments to your photograph. 
  3. Use a levels adjustment layer to edit the black point of the image by clicking on the eyedropper tool. Click on any area on the adjustment layer image that should be pure black – the software will base your black point on this selection. Adjust the slider according to the tones you want to incorporate into your photograph. 
  4. Use other features, such as highlights and shadows, to adjust your faded photo. 
  5. Experiment with more than one technique until your picture looks the way you want it.
photoshop auto tone, auto contract, auto color settings

How Can You Restore Faded Photos?

The best and most reliable way to undo any damage to your faded photos is to use professional photo restoration services.

Simply scan each image using a scanner or a mobile application and share them with us via email. In just 24 to 72 hours, we restore your photos to their original state using color repair techniques and other advanced methods.

Finally, we deliver the final product directly to your home address as physical prints or send them back via your email address.

If you’re struggling to restore your sun or water-damaged pictures, it doesn’t have to be a problem. While you might not save all of them, you can save a lot of them! There are many things you can do to restore color, shades, tones, and more. 

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