DIY: Restore Your Family Photos This Thanksgiving

Scanning photos professionally is pricey. Having them scanned, repaired, and retouched is even pricier.

During my last visit home, dismayed by the state of decay our family photos were in, I scanned some treasures on our (scratched and equally dilapidated) home printer-scanner and saved them to my smartphone. While waiting for my flight the next day, I downloaded Facetune, a portrait and photo editor, for $3.99.

It was a worthy investment. On my cross-country flight, armed with just my iPhone and trusty index finger, I took a photo of my mother and aunts from this:

Original state of post-1970s decay.

To this:


If you’re with family this Thanksgiving, try fishing out some old albums and seeing just how much you can do. (If you don’t have a scanner at hand, you can try out Genius Scan: you need a steady camera hand, but it’s good in a pinch.)

You can find Facetune’s nifty photo-retouch video tutorial here. For a quick preview, you can check out the 5 functions I used below.



To correct surface erosion, I used Facetune’s Patch tool, which is essentially a digital skin graft, allowing me to fill in a white spot with another area from my mother’s face.

Tones and Whiten:

This was a bit trickier. I needed to correct the stripe of discoloration across my aunt’s face, but it was too wide a swath for me to use the Patch function.

I used the Tone palette picker, which allowed me to go over that stripe with greytone (you can use the dropper to select your palette, and then choose the size and strength of your brush). I could see the light source originally came from the left, so I then brightened and blended that area with the Whiten tool:

Filters — Lighting:

I went with “Gamma,” which adjusted the exposure nicely.

Filters — Paper:

“BW Silver” gave me the contrast and clarity I wanted, as well as cleaning up the pesky yellow undertones.

And there we have it. There’s tons more you can do, so experiment and test your skills.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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