Family History Guild – restoring family photos

The February meeting of the Family History Guild featured an excellent presentation by photographer Michael Hough from Ivory Photo in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He talked about the importance of family photos, and about possibilities for restoring and archiving old or damaged photos. Thank you to Char Major for sharing her notes from Mr. Hough’s talk!

Key points included:

  • telling the story about or behind the picture(s)
  • pictures are illustrations of the story — photos are important first for the support they give to stories about family and family history, second for their artistic value

If you discover that you have many photos, tintypes, slides, etc that you want restored or copied:

  1. make a budget
  2. divide items into 3 piles:
    — “have to” restore
    “want” to restore
    “it would be nice” to restore — the pictures of sunsets that are valuable to you, but probably not to others
  3. Consult with family members and see if they can help share the cost of restoration and copying. Intensive restoration can be expensive, but it’s easier to manage if several people chip in (plus everyone can get their own copy of the finished image).
  4. Save scanned pictures to discs, easy to make more copies and when new products for reproducing are available it will be easier to use newer products.
  5. Check old photos for silvery shading, that is a sign of serious deterioration, restore those photos first.

Michael has worked in photography for over 30 years and has a vast amount of experience.  Business website is:, business phone 734-668-8413.

Additional resources:

  • A good resource for video restoration and reproduction is Russell Video (Ann Arbor).
  • Priceless Photo Preservation — 734-219-3916 — Ann Arbor location to open in March.
  • Proper storage of photos in archival-quality boxes and albums will extend their life. See the  article Preserving and Protecting Photographs at the American Museum of Photography website for good information about safe storage.

The March meeting of the Guild will be on Tuesday, March 19 at 7pm. Learn about new databases available at Ancestry and get search tips from Char and Kelly. There will be plenty of time for questions and working on individual projects. No registration is required, and Guild meetings are free and open to the public.


About Heather Sturm

Director at Manchester District Library
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