Printing Press: Photo Retouching and Restoration for the Consumer Market

Printing Press: Photo Retouching and Restoration for the Consumer Market


Having transitioned from “spotting” prints and negatives in the 1970s to using Photoshop in the 1990s, it was apparent to photographers of my generation that Adobe’s breakthrough software would open up exciting opportunities in photo retouching and restoration services.

Copying and repairing prints suddenly evolved from copy stands and India ink to flatbed scanners and photo-editing software.

Entrepreneurial printing shops quickly started offering flat-rate editing and restoration for consumers’ photos. Currently, the Internet is rich with professional photo-retouching services and photo restoration websites. While they are widely available, one survey conducted by the Harris Poll for indicated up to 52% of respondents haven’t done anything to preserve their family photos and videos.

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Before and After Photo Restoration

Photo retouching and restoration services are an excellent vehicle to draw new customers to your printing business. They can also expand services for your current clientele.

Like any service, you have to educate customers about the benefits of preserving their family’s memories. However, there’s little doubt that parents and family historians could benefit from affordable retouching and restoration services. Not only that, but the resulting images present opportunities for premium photo gifts—especially during the holiday season.

Small to medium-size photo labs are unlikely to generate enough work to hire a full-time retouching artist. But it can be beneficial to train a staff employee to perform simple editing jobs, such as retouching dust spots, brightening yellow teeth or removing small light flares in an image. Labs can also offer more advanced editing and restoration through local or online freelance artists.

Moreover, by offering photo-editing and restoration as regular services, and posting examples of before-and-after projects, you’ll encourage customers to bring in treasured family photos for restoration. Or they may order improvements to contemporary photos when they order prints.

Photo Retouching Software

Adobe Photoshop is by far the most popular professional retouching program. Since transitioning to an online “cloud” program, Adobe stopped releasing new Photoshop versions and transitioned to Photoshop CC (for Creative Cloud).

Artists who subscribe to Adobe Photoshop CC always have access to the latest Photoshop version as soon as it’s released. Subscriptions range from individual plans that include Photoshop, Lightroom and 20GB of cloud storage to Photoshop’s entire collection of 20+ creative desktop and mobile apps. This includes Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe XD and Adobe Stock. Packages are also available for businesses, educators and students and universities.

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Before and After Photo Restoration

Popular Photoshop alternatives include Corel’s PaintShop Pro 2020. This program incorporates photo-retouching tools, as well as photo restoration, RAW and HDR editing capabilities. It also functions to fix lens issues, such as distortions and chromatic aberrations.

In addition, Skylum’s Luminar is a universal photo-editing software for Windows and macOS that can work as a stand-alone application or as a Photoshop plug-in. The program includes filters for editing or applying special effects.

DxO PhotoLab is an advanced photo-editing software for professional photographers. One of its most unique functions is U Point technology selection assistance. Instead of using masks to isolate specific areas you want to edit, the program automatically and intelligently applies adjustments to all similar points within an identified area.

These and other digital retouching programs are typically sold for a one-time fee.

Outsourcing Services

For those retailers/finishers who would prefer to outsource their retouching and restoration jobs, there are many freelance digital artists available to take on individual editing jobs.

Websites like and can link businesses with individual digital artists. This allows you to work directly with the same individual for multiple projects or a small team of regular photo editors.

There are also online retouching services that employ a regular staff of professional editors. Many specialize in specific photographic subjects, such as portrait, wedding, fashion, jewelry, real estate or pet photography. is a professional photo-editing service for wedding and portrait photographers who prefer to outsource their retouching work. WeEdit offers everything from color correction and glamour retouching to postproduction processing.

Other companies, like and, are primarily targeted at photo restoration for consumers. Customers can upload scans of their images to the companies’ websites, e-mail them or mail the prints directly to their facilities for scanning and restoration. Both companies charge a flat fee for restoring color or black-and-white photos, including those with significant damage, and for colorization.

Another online service,, offers retouching as well as restoration services. It has set fees for each retouching function and a flat fee for complete restoration. Retouchup’s blog also includes suggestions on how photo businesses and retailers can partner with the company to offer retouching and restoration services to their customers.

For detailed reviews of some of the top online photo-retouching services, visit


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