Joseph Yarbrough Works Magic In Restoring Damaged Photos, Slides, Negatives
When Joseph Yarbrough examines torn, yellowed or washed-out photos, he sees possibilities to bring vintage photos back to life. For the time he invests in cleaning away dirt, water spills, and discoloration, his prices are more than reasonable for restored photo moments-in-time.
A longtime photographer, Yarbrough added photo restoration as a business sideline, after a friend brought him some old photos and asked if they could be salvaged. “How much a photo can be restored is arbitrary until I scan the photo and see it on the computer screen. Physical size and the complexity of photographic damage also make a difference,” says Yarbrough.
Using computer programs, Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop, he is adept at blending backgrounds, erasing tears and spots, and bringing high resolution to people and surroundings. The only aspect of a photo he can’t fix is significant blurriness.
Clients have brought him photos or slides that have been stored in the attic or basemen
t in boxes or envelopes. Yarbrough cautions that heat, changing humidity, mold and mildew, photos on non-acid-free paper, and storage conditions are the primary culprits in images that seem to virtually disappear.
“I know my restoration efforts are pleasing when clients’ eyes light up, they smile, or they cry. Photographs are how we preserve memories, and there is no greater compliment than knowing I’ve preserved a piece of someone’s history. I tell clients that to preserve a photograph, the restored photo should be mounted under conservation non-glare glass.”
Old birth, baptism and marriage certificates – often minor works of art and calligraphy — can also be restored. The originals are scanned at a high resolution. Originals are returned in their initial condition. The restoration work is completed using the digital image.
Yarbrough has spent many years on the art fair circuit. His own work focuses on nature, architecture, church mosaics, stained glass and ornamentation. He’s a world traveler, having grown up in the South Dakota, Illinois, Ohio and New York, and taken trips abroad to England, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Malta and Sicily.
For the last 37 years, Yarbrough has called Lansing “home.” His professional background is in library and information science, layout & design for printing/web, and film and digital photography. “The Michigan State campus is like my own park. “Clients are often surprised when I tell them the a story about the photograph.
“On one of my trips, I photographed a mosaic from Ephesus with a heart in the middle of one pane. I was surprised to learn the heart represented a place of prostitution. At an art fair, a young lady stopped by and was quite intrigued with this photograph. She told me she was looking for a wedding present. I replied that perhaps she should know the story first. When I told the story, she said it was perfect! The newlyweds-to-be were moving into a house that was formerly a house of prostitution.
“What I learned from this exchange was I needed to add a brief story about the photograph to the back of my finished pieces. The story is compelling, whether the photo is new or vintage.”
CompuSearch Design Services, LLC
228 Orchard St.
East Lansing, MI 48823