Repairing Damaged Photos

Damage, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Show the same series of photos to five people and ask them to point out the mistakes; you'll get five totally different answers. Always ask your clients if there is anything they wish were different; you'll be surprised at the answers. I have had several instances where the request was as simple as cloning someone out of a group shot because they no longer worked for the company. Sometimes it will be a simple crop or color change. Always ask; don't assume that what they gave you was perfect.

Then look for the obvious things. Color-correct the image first. (If you skipped it, take a look at Chapter 9, "Color Correction: How to Get It Right.") Then look for physical damage such as rips, wrinkles, pushpin holes, scratches, and ballpoint pen marks. On the second pass, look for printing or scanning errors. Is there a texture present, streaks, a misregistered scan? Finally, check for alignment and title-safe issues; you may have to rotate and clone the image to make it work. In five minutes? Yes, with practice you can fix 90% of the problems in five minutes; the other 10% you learn to live with (or ask for more time).

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