Sunday, July 31, 2016

Meet our Sponsor: FotoMend

Note from Jean Wilcox Hibben: Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you my interview with Jean from FotoMend

Jean Hibben: We have known each other for a lot of years and enjoyed sharing a name. We may also share ancestors, if we could just coordinate the time to figure it out. The Pickard family has deep roots in America. But that is not the subject of this blog post . . . here we want to learn about your business and how it can help family historians see the “clear picture” (pun intended). How did you get involved in photo restoration?

Jean: After earning a Fine Art degree, I spent about ten years doing “paint and brush” type work before transitioning into graphic art as digital photo editing software gained in popularity.  Eventually, I landed a job as a graphic designer for a company that manufactured and sold giftware items. In addition to designing their products I did layout work for their catalogs.  This involved finding pretty backgrounds online and digitally cutting and pasting photos of their products into these festive settings.  I found that I really had a knack for photo manipulation.  My employer noticed as well and asked if I would like to do some photo restoration and archiving work for his father.  He literally handed me a Samsonite suitcase full of random photographs and large format negatives. There were even albumen prints dating back to the 1880s! Four years and many more suitcases later, I had scanned 35 DVD volumes of photos, slides, and negatives for not only his father, but his entire family. What a way to get started!

Jean Hibben: I have a box of photos that need help, but don’t know where to start. I mean, I have only a limited supply of money to go with what seems like an unlimited supply of photos. For those with a similar problem, is it best to tackle the oldest ones first or start with some that have been taken in the last, say 50 years?

Jean: It may seem appropriate to scan and archive your oldest black and white photos first, but they may actually be more stable than your yellow-faded photos from the 1970s. So I recommend starting with photos that are at most risk of being damaged, or incurring further damage. Photos that are torn, fading, yellowing, or have foxing (rust-colored spots) should be high on your priority list because these are conditions that will continue to worsen; eventually damaging your photos beyond repair.

Jean Hibben: What is the hardest task a photo restorer faces?

Jean: Restoring a photo that has sections of a person’s face missing is the most difficult yet rewarding task I encounter.  It’s best to use other photos of the person to help recreate their face.  When other photos are not available I have to use the portion of the face that is not damaged to create a mirror image.  This can be tricky because most faces are not symmetrical. In these cases it’s good to have a photo of a relative with facial similarities to look at for reference. You can see examples of this on my website.

Jean Hibben: I know you use software to assist you in your reparation tasks and I’ve seen your fabulous work. Is it giving away a trade secret to tell us what program you use?

Jean: Not at all!  I used Adobe Photoshop.  It is the leading photo editing software on the market and it’s been around for over 25 years.  It does everything I need when it comes to restoration, photo manipulation, and colorization. I can also run my scanner through the program so that when I scan negatives and slides in batches they land in Photoshop, ready to be touched up and saved to my computer.  I can also easily create 8.5”x11” contact sheets for my clients so they can see all of the photos that I have archived to DVD.

Jean Hibben:
Got any deals to offer our readers (you know, like have 2 photos restored, get a third done for free or half price)? And, if so, how do they contact you and what should they tell you to get the discount (like a code, or they read it here, or . . . ?).

Jean: Yes I do:
All scans over 250, 5% off per order (promo code 250PLUS)
All scans over 500, 10% off per order (promo code 500PLUS)
5 or more Restorations/Manipulations  1 Free Service - $20 value (Promo code 5PLUS)
10 or more Restorations/Manipulations  2 Free Services - $40 value (Promo code 10PLUS)
Buy 3 prints of any size, get 4th of equal or lesser value Free (promo code PRINT3)
Refer a Friend,  1 Free Service ($10 value)
Follow us on Facebook or Twitter,  Buy 1 Get 1 Free - $10 value (Promo code FOLLOW)
Please mention promo code when placing your order.  Specials can not be combined.

Jean Hibben: OK, getting the photos restored is one thing, but keeping the photos from needing restoration in a number of years from now is another. Any tips on proper photo storage? And, to go along with that, for those of us who scan our photos as an extra storage/backup plan, what resolution do you recommend and what format should we use (tiff, jpeg . . .?)?

Jean: The idea is to store your photos in the most ideal conditions possible. This includes taking photos out of non-archival "magnetic" or peel and stick photo albums and storing them along with their negatives in archival photo boxes or sleeves.  Photos, negatives, and slides are happiest in a dark environment at 68 degrees Fahrenheit with 30-40% humidity.
I recommend backing up your scanned photos onto Archival Grade Gold DVDs.  These DVDs contain a hard coating on the recording side to protect the surface from scratches. The gold reflective layer prevents oxygen from corroding the silver reflective layer.  In proper environmental conditions, these discs are designed to last as long as 100 years. Also, online storage services such as Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive allow you to upload your photos for free. This is a great secondary back up system, especially in case of fire or other natural disaster.

Most photos are best scanned at 600dpi, unless they are grainy and poor quality like those taken with disk cameras in the 1980s.  I don’t recommend scanning any photo at less than 300dpi.  Slides and negatives look best scanned at 2400dpi or more.  My Pro level scanning service is at 4800dpi.  I prefer to scan photos as TIFFs because these files use lossless compression, meaning the file can be edited and re-saved without losing image quality. Original data can be perfectly reconstructed from the compressed data.

Jean Hibben: Any other last words?

Jean: Understandably, some folks worry about sending their precious family photos off to a company they found online. Rest assured that FotoMend handles every photo, negative, slide, or document with care; each one scanned individually on a flatbed scanner and never sent through any kind of self-feeding scanning device.  For those living in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, FotoMend offers a pick up and delivery service for a small fee.  It really gives me great joy and satisfaction knowing that I am helping people preserve their family’s history.  Thank you for considering FotoMend for your next project.

Jean: Thanks, again, for being part of this project. Best wishes in your roots pursuits!

 --Jean Wilcox Hibben

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