20 Before & After Examples of Photo Restoration and Colorization in 2024

Welcome to the world of photo restoration, where art and history collide! In this article, we’ll take you on a captivating journey through 20 stunning photo restoration examples, demonstrating the magic that occurs when damaged or faded photos are given new life.

These incredible transformations will leave you speechless, whether you’re a history buff, a sentimental soul, or someone looking for professional photo restoration services. 

Examples of Photo Restoration of Various Types of Damage

We’ll show you some examples of photos that had different types of damage and received different repairs below. We’ll tell you a short story about each photo, as well as what we did to fix it, so let’s get started!

old photos album before restoration

Note: All of the photos shown below were cropped in this way so that the original and restored photos had the same framing. Original images looked like the example of album photo above.

1. Extremely Damaged Photograph with Cracks, Scratches, and Creases

This child portrait was taken in the early 1950s. This photo’s surface was creased as a result of improper storage and sun exposure. It also cracked after being removed from the frame where it had been stored without glass.

You can learn how to avoid problems caused by improper storage of photos by reading this article.

Types of damage: cracks, creases and dust.

We carefully repaired all of the damage in the photo and spent a long time painstakingly re-painting details so that the restored photo looked better while remaining natural and human.

While some minor details were difficult or impossible to restore, we did our best to restore, enhance and colorize the face as closely as possible to the original!

2. Stains, Creases and Discoloration on a Military Album Photo

This photograph is from a military album. Because of an incident that occurred shortly after printing, this photo was stained with ink, and there were no other copies of it, we did our best to restore it.

Remove Stains and Fix Discoloration

Types of damage: ink stains, discoloration and creases.

The restoration of this photo took a long time and required special care because all of the main parts of the face were partially or completely covered by these stains, making it easy to distort the image by fixing these stains carelessly.

We were able to restore it to look bountiful and as accurate as it gets because we had a few other photos as references for the face shape and skin color!

3. Stains From Sticking to Another Photo

While generally in good condition, this photograph had a flaw. Because of its original sticky finish, it stuck to the photo that was stored on top of it in the photo box, and when it was peeled from it, it left stains and dust glued to the top.

Vintage Family Portrait Before and After Fixing Stains and Other Damage

Types of damage: stains, dust and fading.

Despite having stains covering a significant portion of the photo’s surface, the photo was restored to perfection. Main details, such as faces, were mostly undamaged, and because most stains were partially transparent, we could clearly see details beneath them, allowing us to priestly restore the photo and then simply colorize it!

4. Big Torn Areas and Missing Parts

This photograph originally had two missing parts. Neither we nor the client know the story behind it, but the photo appeared to have been intentionally torn by someone long time ago.

Photo After Recreating Torn Out Missing Parts

Types of damage: missing parts and torn corners.

This photo was undoubtedly difficult to restore and colorize. Fortunately, the majority of the image was still intact, so we could spend some time copying and drawing missing parts back into place.

5. Photo That Has Been Heavily Scratched

Most popular cause of photo damage is improper storage. This photo is not an exclusion. Instead of being mounted in frame, this photo was stored inside the book. 

Old Photo After Removing Cracks And Scratches

Types of damage: heavy scratches.

The image was heavily scratched, but there were no other issues such as dust or creases. While it may appear that a book is a secure place to keep your photos, this is not the case. The photo is subjected to heavy pressure from the pages every time you open or move the book, which will inevitably scratch it over time.

It required a significant amount of time and effort, but the end result was well worth it. After color restoration, the image looked much better!

6. Old Photo with lots of Cracks, Tape 

This photograph was taken in the 1920s. While age is a major factor in photo damage, the photo was also heavily damaged by cracks. The best guess is that this photo was taken on a frame, and because it was somewhat “glued” to it with sticky tape, it cracked after it was pulled.

World War Two Photo Before and After Restoration

Types of damage: cracks, blur and sticky tape.

side from the damage to the picture, it was also necessary to remove traces left by the sticky tape. It was time well spent because the end result made this old and nearly destroyed photo look like it was never damaged or lacked color!

7. Blurry, Cracked and Faded Photo with Shadows

This is an old photo from a military album that has been damaged over time and has lost some quality due to the way it was converted into a digital photo.

Old Faded and Blurry Photo From Military Album Before After Example

Types of damage: discoloration, cracks, stains, scratches and shadows (caused by improper scanning)

Because the majority of the photos we work with are not actual scans taken with a proper scanner, but rather regular photographs of printed photos taken with phones, we frequently encounter issues caused by how the photo was scanned in addition to actual damage to the photo. The most common and difficult issue caused by improper scanning is blurry photos.

If you want to learn how to scan your photos with your smartphone without using a scanner, follow this link!

8. Light Cracks, Scratches and Dust

Let’s take a short break from photos that are nearly destroyed by damage and look at some easier cases, like this lovely portrait!

Fixing Small Cracks Scratches Dust and Stains on Old Photo

Types of damage: cracks and dust

This photo had relatively low level of damage, so we were able to restore it with high precisions and invest more time on sharpening all the details and colorizing the photo carefully.

9. Cracks, Scratches and Missing Parts

Except for a missing corner and an eye, this photo was in good condition. When it comes to restoring the face, every detail counts, especially the eyes, which are mirrors of the soul. As a result, even the smallest error can ruin a photograph.

Photo After Removing Damage and Fixing Eyes
  • If you’re curious, we have a long, detailed tutorial on photo restoration that shows and explains the process; just watch the video above!

Types of damage: cracks, scratches, missing corner, missing eye and reflections

Because this photo was taken with a phone rather than a scanner, it has a small amount of reflection in addition to the original damage. As you can see, the photo was restored and colorized to look beautiful, despite the fact that both we and the client were misusing the “Terminator Eye”.

If you want to learn how to colorize photo with AI, check this article!

10. Blurry and Cracked Photo

This photo from the school album was taken by the daughter while she was visiting her mother. The photo was blurry, but it wasn’t retaken right away, and the original photo was destroyed in the flood a few years later, so this was the only copy of the image left.

Blurry and Scratched Photo Before and After Restoration and Colorization

Types of damage: cracks, scratches and blur

While blur is one of the most difficult types of damage to remove, we sharpened the image and tried to make it look natural and beautiful. Then, using client information, we coloredized it!

11. Stains, Fading and Shadows

This photo was originally stored in a photo box, where it successfully accumulated dust and stains but managed to avoid scratches.

Photo After Restoring Fading and Stains

Types of damage: fading, stains, shadow and improper digitalization

The original photo was generally in poor condition; even though these stains do not appear as bad as ink stains, they are difficult to remove, especially given that they cover the entire photo. Furthermore, while taking a photo of the original client, she cast some shadows on top of the photo with her phone, which we then removed similarly to stains.

The photo looked better after restoration and colorization than it looked when it was first printed!

12. Paint Peeled from Surface and Torn Corner

This photograph lost a significant portion. This corner was ripped while attempting to drag it out of the album. These blemishes on top of the photo are not cracks or creases; they are simply parts of the photo that were “glued” to album plastic.

Photo After Crack Removal and Restoring Missing Part

Types of damage: missing parts and paint pilled from photo

Although the cause of the damage was relatively uncommon, it was repaired in the same manner as all other common types of damage. It’s difficult to imagine how it looked before seeing the restored photo!

13. Old, Underexposed Photo With Low Contrast

We have restored many photos that were once stunning but have since lost their luster and beauty. However, not all photos were of high quality to begin with. While this photo is undeniably cool and nostalgic, it originally lacked exposure and contrast. With time, natural aging, and damage, the situation undoubtedly deteriorated.

World War Two Photo Before and After Restoration

Types of damage: fading, cracks, low contrast and underexposure of the original

In addition to fixing the photo’s damage on a regular basis, we improved the contrast between people and background to make them stand out more, while still looking natural and beautiful, especially after adding color!

14. Cracks, Creases and Fading

This photo had been in wallet of our client for about ten years. While being damaged this photo still looks better than some that were stacked in photo boxes. So it’s either very high quality original print or extremely careful handling (or both)!

Old Portrait Photo Before and After Removing Cracks and Addling Color

Types of damage: creases, cracks and fading

We spent a long time removing all of the damage and cracks from this photo before carefully enhancing and colorizing it. Check out the video above to see the process for yourself!

15. Light Creases and Aging

Compared to the other photos we’ve shared, this one was kept in the safest possible place: inside a wooden frame with glass, away from the sun, carefully handled, and away from any humidity. However, as you can see, even photos like this can lose quality over time, regardless of how carefully they were handled.

Photo Before and After Fixing Blur and Fading

Types of damage: lights creases, fading and blur from aging

Some photos simply age faster depending on how they were printed (with what printer and on what paper). The sharpness and contrast appear to be fading over time. You can’t avoid it, but we can help you fix it. This is a very mild case of blur and loss of contrast, so after restoring details and adding color, the photo will look as if it was just taken today!

16. Damaged Photo Stuck Under Cracked Glass

While wooden frames with glass covers are the safest way to store your photos, they may also have some issues. Let us explain.

Photo Stuck Under Glass Before and After Fixing Glass Cracks

Types of damage: damaged surface and photo stuck under the cracked glass

If your original photos were glued or stapled to the surface of the frame rather than simply placed in it, their placement is permanent. So, in cases like this, where the frame and glass are damaged, you simply cannot take the photo out of the frame without destroying or otherwise altering it.

While this person was unable to remove the original photo from the frame, we worked our magic and restored it digitally, eliminating the need to risk damaging or even destroying the original photo!

17. Paper Texture and Dust

This old photograph simply required some enhancements. As a result, we cleaned up the original and very noticeable texture of the paper and dust, and made the image much clearer.

School Album With Paper Texture Before and After Fixing Texture

Types of damage: paper texture and dust

Nothing out of the ordinary here. Because the photo was in generally good condition, we simply cleaned it up, sharpened it, enlarged it, and colorized it to maximize its potential and bring all the details we could find back to it!

18. Light Color Corrections and Contrast Improvements 

This incredible family portrait had lost its original colors, contrast, and sharpness over time, so we restored them and gave the old image a new look!

Mild Discoloration Photo Restoration Example

Types of damage: fading, color shifting, low contrast and fading caused by aging

Because this photo was already in good condition, we simply did our best to restore and enhance the details that were already on the image, without changing anything and simply bringing the freshness to it!

19. Extreme Case of Reflections

The photo of the drawing that was originally under glass is shown in this example. While the drawing itself was unharmed, the reflection caused numerous issues.

Photo With Reflective Surface and Glass Example Before After Restoration

Types of damage: light fading and extreme example of reflections

Another reason why proper image digitization is critical. As photo restoration artists who do not have access to original printed photos, these reflections are just another type of damage, similar to cracks or creases.

Because the client no longer had access to the original, we worked with this image to remove all the reflections and then enhanced the drawing to look like it was simply drawn on paper and scanned!

20. Just Photo Colorization

During World War II, this epic was captured during the London Blitz. It was a staged photograph taken by British photographers and then used to reassure citizens.

Historically Accurate Photo Colorization

Types of damage: no damage, just black and white image

We were able to find one with literally no damage because this image on the left was taken and shared in hundreds of copies. Then, after scanning it, we lightly enhanced it and spent a long time carefully colorization it, after conducting color research and selecting the appropriate colors!


Get Your Photo Restored

Each image tells a unique story in the world of photo restoration, and the transformation from ‘before’ to ‘after’ is a testament to the power of preserving memories. We hope that these stunning photo restoration examples have inspired you and sparked an interest in restoring your own priceless photographs.

If you have treasured images that deserve a second chance, keep in mind that our team of skilled restoration artists is here to assist you in capturing those moments in all their glory. Don’t let time erase your memories; instead, consider entrusting us with the task of restoring them to their former glory.

Our photo restoration services are about more than just fixing old photos; they are about preserving the stories, emotions, and history that are contained within them. We can bring new life to your photographs with our expertise and dedication, ensuring they remain a treasured part of your family’s legacy.

So, why wait? Take the next step in your photo restoration journey today. Reach out to us to get a free quote, and together we can bring your memories to life, one image at a time. Let us transform your ‘before’ photos into ‘after’ masterpieces that future generations will treasure.

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