How a Fallen Soldier’s Photograph Made Me Realise the Emotional Power of Photoshop
Do you remember the first job you ever did on Photoshop? I do.
It was the summer of 1995 and I had just landed the job as writer and art director for a new FPS title produced by a PC/Mac games company in Seattle. Up until then, I had been creating artwork using pen and ink so the company kindly sent me a Mac 6100 in the mail.
But, despite the Adobe applications they had pre-installed, I was only using the Apple machine to send scanned images via email. I imagined their art department found it quite amusing that their boss couldn’t even open Photoshop.
Meanwhile, my wife’s family had somehow got wind of my new acquisition and it wasn’t long before they contacted me with a request they were sure I would be able to help them with. It seems one of the male members of the family had fought and perished in the trenches during World War 1 and, when his body was discovered, they found amongst his possessions a family photo.
However, due to the fact that it had been folded down the centre and stuffed into his pocket, the figure of a woman in the middle of the family photograph had been eroded so badly she was unrecognizable.
Their request: to repair the face so the surviving members of the family could discover her identity.
Up until this point, I had only opened the Photoshop app once in a failed attempt to work my way through the basics but I’m not a quick learner and the accompanying manual confused the hell out of me, despite being written for newbs.
However, the family’s earnest request, plus my own curiosity about the mystery surrounding the photograph, made me promise to give it a go.
Once I’d scanned it in, I opened Photoshop and began to work out how I could repair the face. While one side was almost completely destroyed by the fold, there was enough of the left side of her face to copy, flip and paste onto the damaged areas of the right.
Next, I zoomed into the photo and began to painstakingly replace the missing pixels around the ragged white marks left by the fold. Lastly, I used the clone tool to restore her feather boa and bonnet and cleaned up all the other marks that had scarred the photo during its journey from the battlefields of Europe.
It took me hours of faltering, agonising concentration (and foul language) to complete but with a feeling of triumph, I printed out the result and mailed it to the family.
Two days later, I received a breathless phone call from the wife’s sister.
They’d shown the restored photo to the older members of the family, one of whom had recognised and identified the woman as an aunt who had died not long after the photograph had been taken in 1910 thus clearing up a mystery that had plagued the family for almost eight decades.
So, my feeling of accomplishment had been compounded by another: the realisation of the importance of the photographic image and its astounding power to bond together people across time itself.
Cut to 2016 and the arrival of Tweak. The emotional drive to connect with family and friends is more powerful than ever before with almost two billion images being uploaded to the internet every day, many of them requiring the same human care and treatment as that first ever photo-retouching job.
We’re looking for talented Photoshop professionals but we’re also looking for people who share the same commitment as we do to help users realise their dreams and make their memories perfect.
If you think you have the expertise and sensitivity for the job join our growing family of Tweak designers!