Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way

One of my favorite hobbies is working on my family’s genealogy; because it was also my uncle’s and grandmother’s hobby before me, I have access to a treasure trove of photographs, historical documents, family charts and other paraphernalia that they and others had collected. What’s not in my personal files is kept at the Angelo State University library in their canvas wrapped on stretchers, where it is easily shared with me and any other interested familial historians.

I guess because I have always had such a relatively easy time collecting and accessing some of (what I consider to be) the most amazing old photographs and documents, and because there are still family members alive who remember the colorful anecdotes which accompany many of the photographs, I was a bit surprised when my boyfriend mentioned that he didn’t have very many pictures of his mother’s father, the grandfather who had died before he was born. Kevin also doesn’t know very many stories about this grandfather, because his mother has also passed. One of the few pictures that he does have of his grandfather is a formal photograph taken perhaps at age five or six; the photo measures 5″ tall x 3.25″ wide, and it has a little bit of damage and fading.

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way

When I was offered the opportunity to review the Photofiddle process, and once I understood what they were capable of doing, I knew immediately which picture I would ask them to use…

As the email that I received from Photofiddle stated, “ transforms any photo instantly into artwork online in minutes.  We are the only website that gives the user an instant preview of their design before ordering.  If the user is not happy with the design, our art department will create a custom design with no additional fee.”

Photofiddle produces their artwork on Gift certificates, art prints (unframed and rolled), as framed artwork, or as canvas wrapped on stretchers. Prices can vary wildly, depending upon the end size and the style chosen. I was told my Photofiddle design would be of the canvas wrapped on stretchers variety, and that my size choices would be 18″ x 18″ (if I chose a square piece), or 24″ x 16″ if I went with a more traditional rectangular design.

Obviously it would have been really easy to send a 12 megapixel digital photograph and allow them to transform it into a beautiful picture, but using a scan would really put their restoration services to the test. I was told that even though they prefer digital images, Photofiddle does have a mail-in service for people who don’t have a digital image or simply can’t get their photo scanned.

Shortly after sending my photo to Photofiddle, I received an email with links to my finished artwork. First I was shown the restored photo…

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way
photo restored

This black and white restored version was already amazing enough, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. The Photofiddle art department had also created the following versions…and from them, we had to choose one.

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way
photo restored and colorized

The choices available were simply amazing, some of my favorites in this screen were Watercolor High Detail, Impasto Painting, and Metropolitan. Each screen allowed the possibility to zoom the picture to 100%, so that we could see the exact details which would be present in the final version.

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way

I also thought that Fantasy Art was a beautiful rendering…

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way

Some of the versions available were more “out there” than others, but they all had cool design elements which might have worked out really well if we had been interested in something more avant garde.

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way

In the end, we both agreed that for this particular photograph, Sepia was the most beautiful and appropriate option.

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way

After confirming our selection with Photofiddle and placing the order, I was given a FedEx tracking number with a link so that we could follow the package; about a week later, it arrived.

Inside a reinforced and properly packed box, arrived the fully restored and enlarged photo which had been reproduced on a stretched canvas. A pair of white cotton gloves were also enclosed with the warning that “All fine artwork should be handled with protective gloves,” because ” Oil from your hands and fingers can leave fingerprints,” and “Rings and jewelry on your fingers can leave markings.” The picture was wrapped around the stretchers and ready to hang; because of this design, there was no need for further framing.

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way

And here is the final product, a once small and slightly damaged antique photograph which has now been restored as a piece of modern art. The slight texture of the canvas adds depth to the picture, and the sepia tone gives it the gravitas that such an antique deserves; I daresay that this version looks better than the original did when it was new. We absolutely love this picture, and we are already contemplating which photos to next send in for “fiddling”.

Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way

Photofiddle is an absolutely fabulous resource for anyone who has pictures that they would like to enjoy in a new way. Whether they be antiques or modern, there is a unique twist and interpretation waiting to be discovered in each photograph; all you need to do is create your account, submit your photos and get started.

The Photofiddle process is available directly on their website. Gear Diary readers have been granted a 15% discount; to use it, enter the code gear15 in the promotion code box during checkout.

MSRP: Varies wildly; as tested (24″ x 16″ canvas wrapped on stretchers) $139.95. Gift certificates are available if you know someone who would love the service, but you aren’t sure which picture they would want to have done.

What I Like: Absolutely gorgeous restoration and interpretation of an old photo; cool idea for modern photos; easy to manage ordering process; a plethora of final design sizes and choices; absolutely wonderful gift idea

What Needs Improvement: Nothing; this service is amazing!

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

2 Comments on "Restoring and Beautifying Photos the Photofiddle Way"

  1. Hmmmm…

    I just got married on Monday, and we want to do something special with one of the wedding pictures – this might be just the ticket! Once we get the “real” pictures from the photographer, rather then one of the 600 we took, I just might take this splurge!


  2. Congratulations to you and your mate, JD! 😀

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