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How to Start Out in Photo Restoration
Photo-restoration specialists use photo-editing software and image-manipulation techniques to restore old or damaged photographs. To start a business, you can work from home with a relatively small investment in essential equipment, which includes a computer, scanner, photo-editing software and printer.
Develop Your Skills
Unless you are already an expert with your photo-editing software, you can improve your skills by taking a course at a local technical college or photography school. Online video tutorials and articles demonstrate step-by-step techniques for dealing with different types of image problems. The New York Institute of Photography offers an online course “Photoshop for Photographers” that provides guidance on using photo-editing software. Willhelm Imaging Research has a comprehensive library of resources on technical aspects of image restoration.
Choose Your Equipment
Buy or lease the equipment for your business. You need a scanner to create a copy of the original photograph so you can work on the image without damaging the original. Photo-editing software programs provide tools to remove dust, spots and other marks, repair scratches, and to enhance color, contrast and sharpness. To provide prints of restored images, use a high-quality color photo printer. Your computer should have sufficient memory and hard disk capacity to handle large digital files. Choose the largest screen size you can afford so you can work in detail on different areas of the image. PC Magazine recommends screens with a matte finish and a hood to prevent ambient light and reflections from distorting your view of the image.
Identify the Market
Offer your services to individuals, groups and businesses. Individuals may have personal photographs in poor condition of family members or ancestors. Family history groups or historical associations may have members who are creating photo archives and require restoration or conversion of original photos to digital images. Museums, galleries and universities may also require restoration services to improve the quality of their photo collections. Advertising agencies and design firms may need skilled image-editing services to enhance or correct photographs used in advertisements or brochures. Book and magazine publishers may also require restoration services, particularly if they are dealing with historical topics.
Promote Your Services
Set up a website to promote your services and operate an online business. Show examples of photographs before and after restoration to demonstrate the range of problems you can fix. Offer a facility for customers to upload their own digital images for restoration. Contact groups, organizations and businesses in your target market by mail or email, including a link to your website. Offer to give talks on photo restoration to family history groups and historical associations.
Obtain Licenses and Permits
Whether you plan a full-time or part-time business, you must register your business and obtain a state or local business license. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides advice to help you find the licenses and permits you need. You also may need a sales tax license to sell prints of restored photos.
Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner's World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.