In the last couple of weeks I have been receiving a lot of communications of needing my services to recover images from broken drives, or closed online cloud accounts, damaged USB sticks, broken phones because in them are the last and only images of a loved one who is gone and with these devices their memory.
By the way *I DO NOT OFFER ANY RECOVERING SERVICES.
We live in a digital world where all we touch is glass screens, most people do not know the feeling of holding a physical printed memory in their hands or enjoying a frame in time printed and hanging on a wall. Many of these same individuals are fellow photographers who have failed to practice what they preach and have not taken the time to print these special captures, and now it might be too late.
So with all these reasons of why you should print and backup your captures aside, lets get to what this is about.
For a while now, I have been going around on random social media pages and seeing people posting their loved ones who have passed away pictures, be it something that happened 40+ years ago to as recent as today, some of these images have deteriorated to the elements and bad handling to the latest ones not being exposed right or just very bad lighting and file size.
So for this reason I have taken it upon myself to “borrow” images from strangers and try to do them justice and send it back retouched out of the blue a couple weeks after. Now I wont share those images here for obvious reasons, and yes of course its spooky that a stranger just takes your pics, enhances them and sends them back with a “Sorry for your loss, and you’re welcome.” note.
This has been hard too because these are not the best of uploads, most are posted at low quality from a reflecting glass framed captured on a cellphone, so a picture of a picture…
This has lead to an influx in requesting I retouch more images for these same families, other responses have been some beautiful return letters of gratitude. At times it feels like I am pitching a service when they reply back, which I am not, after the fact if they get into how much would something cost, then that is another story, but that’s not my original intent. I really just want people to have some preserved images of their loved ones.
Which brings me to this here post.
Ingrid Suarez is a Beautiful model with tons of pictures of herself online, but with very few of her Identical in beauty mother who has passed away. Each year around the time of her death, Ingrid post her heart breaking words to her mother, I can not imagine the pain that she must feel, I choke up every time I read her words. But being that she was not really a stranger I did not want to cross the line and just take the few pics she uploads and retouch them, I know Ingrid is super cool and would have not mind at all in fact would have encouraged it, But I just felt out of place to say anything other than kind words.
I know weird right? especially because I go around doing it to random strangers why not just have do the same for a friend, but I felt like I would just be more useful with kind words.
Anyways, dammit I can write a lot instead of getting to the point.
I put up an offer a couple weeks back on Facebook to have FREE Portraits taken for anyone who has an elderly loved one, of course no one took advantage, but to my surprise Ingrid did! in the form that she has one of the tiniest of old world passport prints of her Mother and would like to get it perhaps enlarged.
This is where the technical issues come in, but the creative have artistic magic at hand and I wanted to push it more than just an enlargement.
I would have needed the physical print to do a high rez scan and then get to the process of retouching it, but being that this was the only copy she had and it’s in a fragile state, and how things get lost in shipping it was best not to even try, I was going to offer my pick up and delivery service but that gut feeling was too strong, so we opted for the best capture she can get me since she did not have a scanner. and this is what we got.
Which I printed a wallet size and after a very slow scan at the highest resolution possible on a small item on my EPSON 12000XL-PH, I ended up with a large file to play around with, now no matter how large the file scan is, the quality of the image will still be the same, except now the issue is 700x larger.
After cleaning up the basics, dust on the frame from the time of capture, since this image was shot on film. then the damage over time of specks and folds were taken care of, I asked Ingrid to let me know which marks were actually birthmarks on her Moms skin so I would not take away from who she was, A lot of people get carried away in retouching, My main goal was in bringing this image back to life.
After everything was confirmed on which were and were not beauty marks, I asked for some Images of herself so I can try an idea I had in mind. I was able to pull the trick together from some BEAUTIFUL images from her collection which you too can enjoy here and on the link below at the end of the post (NSFW)
The 3 images above are a couple of the skin color selects I used to bring her mothers image to a color view, I am sure other artist have different ways and techniques to do something similiar as in this video below if you would take the time to view for 3 minutes before you go down to see the final results. I think it will give you a better appreciation for what I have done.
In the below image to the left, we have the original stamp size image, overlay-ed onto of the final half scan with the pixel dots of algorithm creating data that its not there. In the middle I have my first 17 layers of color and retouching, which in itself is the look that many in the past would have been happy with as a color image from a black and white one, on the right the image is about 90% completed, she has blush, clearer sharper eyes, lip color and the blouse and head scarf are in more detail and color properly.
This is a mixture of Ingrid’s actual skin color which I assume is identical to her mothers since they are identical to one another. The only thing I was not content with here is the left arm, screen right, I had no choice but to make it a long sleeve because it was just too blurred in the original image to try and flesh colorize it, it was not working, but unless one is told that its her arm it will go unnoticed.
Below is the FINAL iteration of the image.
It contains 32 different layers, everything was colored individually to preserve light and shadow play, skin texture, selective color and it even has film grain. the color option was minimal to keep it in the style of colorization colors of years gone by.
I hope I have done this justice as I enjoyed discovering the process on my style on my own and would love to bring back images for others in need of such service. Thank you Ingrid for allowing me this honor.
The above image is web color so it might be too saturated on different screens, here is what the actual print would look like it it was to be printed.
Please feel free to follow The Suarez on Ig (Here)
Also on her (NSFW) Adult Only Page here.