Submit Your Problem Photo to the Photo Help Desk

We all have piles of them – problem photos. They clutter up our hard-drives and fill up shoe boxes. They aren’t good enough to hang on the wall or even put in a photo album, but they are meaningful to us. Sometimes, a favourite photo has a problem that bugs us – a tear, a distracting background, bad colour or exposure, or even a person we’d rather erase from our history. This is where I’d like to help.

I’ve been using Photoshop since I was in high school, and let me tell you – that was an EARLY version. After I graduated from university, I decided to go back to college to study photography and digital imaging. To help pay the bills I took a part-time job at a camera shop and photo lab. To date myself here,  my best commission that first year came from selling 2 1.3 megapixel cameras, for $1,200 CAD – EACH. Pretty cutting edge technology. But I digress…

Our lab outsourced photos that needed “restoration.” Most of these were old black and white family photos that were cracked and dirty and required a lot of TLC to bring them back to their former glory. Some of the fixes however were surprisingly easy. Of course the out-lab charged a fortune for their services. Good restoration work is expensive and should be because it is an art unto itself. Unfortunately however, the out-lab didn’t have any artists on staff. After having dozens of customers refuse to pay for the shoddy work, we cancelled our contract with the out-lab and my manager and I saw a niche we could fill.

I took over the work of the out-lab and handled all of the restoration work myself, at home in my free time. I learned a lot in that time and came to respect the art of restoration. But I also saw that many people had little problems with their photos that could be easily fixed but made a huge difference to the overall appearance of the image.

Although digital imaging technology has advanced light-years since those days, the problems haven’t changed much. I still get frequent requests from friends if I can help “fix” their photos. So, as a next feature on the ACM Photography blog, I’m going to offer you a Problem Photo Help Desk.

Every few weeks, depending on demand, I will select one photo to “fix” for free. I’ll explain how I did it here on the blog. You are all welcome to submit your images but here are a few guidelines to improve your chance of being selected:

  • I won’t be doing full restorations of seriously damaged photos. This is a hugely time-consuming process and although I offer this service for a fee, it won’t be part of the help desk.

  • Size Matters – The more pixels available in an image, the more I have to work with. I can’t do to much with your 500X700 pixel jpg so send them to me full size please

  • No focus problems – If your photo is seriously out of focus, no amount of Photoshop is going to fix it.
  • I’ll take up to 5 photos per month from the same person BUT if you are chosen I will only be fixing ONE photo.

  • If you submit your photo you agree to it being published in its before and after state here on the blog.

  • I will email you the fixed version of your photo, if you are selected.

Want to submit a photo? Send  an e-mail to [email protected] and attach your photo.  In your email, explain what the problem is that you would like me to fix. I’ll keep all of the photos submitted for consideration for upcoming Problem Photo Help Desk posts so be patient and your photo may be chosen.

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About Me

Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian photographer living and working in Brussels, Belgium. She specialises in garden and travel lifestyle stock photography. In addition, she is a Photoshop professional and produces digital artwork as fine art prints. Alison is available for assignment work and commissions on request.

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