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How Estimating Works


Give me a ball park range.


In a nutshell.  


Some restoration services have flat rates, others count damage areas and every little thing they do as extra.  The average photo brought to us, falls into three ranges Light Range of $30-$60 Medium Range $70-$90 and Heavy Range $100. and up.  For some clients, this explanation is enough. If you need a closer estimate, we can not give you one without seeing the photo first.  Keep in mind that we do not outsource our work and the originals are in a safe environment. You may have the options of waiting for them to be scanned and keep the originals.   If you want a closer estimate and or you enjoy reading ...go on and read about the complex issues we have to consider when we estimate from the topics below. You may find it very interesting to say the least: 



Contents of this page.


Rough Estimates

Estimating Color Prices

Understanding Color Issues

Archival Quality Prints Prices

Electronic Files - All About Electronic Files 101    

Money Back Guaranteed

Options for badly damaged photos

Bulk Rates

Scanning Services - Any Type of Electronic file to any digital device.  

                         I just want a copy - Chain Store or DIY service VS a Restoration Service.

Turn Around Time

Why some photos cost so much




Rough Estimates


The three photo samples below demonstrate light, medium and heavy damage.  It aids in determining a rough estimate, choose which one your photo maybe classified as.  For those who like to read and want to know more, keep scrolling.


$30-$60 Very minor damage mostly to the background or border and minor coloring issues. In this range the average photo submitted is usually $29.99 to remain competitive with changes is the image editing industry. Then you need to consider size and add the number of copies and taxes.

However if you are a current client with many photos to restore, or a loyal ongoing client we often do these simple images for $20. to $10. dollars each. We promise you won't find this deal anywhere. We strongly believe that all things are negotiable. We cater to genealogist and want to help the individual restore or archive their images for the next generation. Which is why we have such a strong following for all these years.




$70-$90 Most damages to the faces are in the $70 to 90 range. No damage to faces but still plenty of damage in general.

When a photograph is submitted to us and will take over an hour or a few hours to fix, we can NOT do it for $29.99. If the price we quote for you is acceptable to you and you have other photos you may want restored, we will consider doing the 2nd and 3rd photo for under $29.99 because we want to keep you as a lifetime loyal client. (at the time of the initial order)



$100 - $ 300, any higher than 300 is possible but rare. These usually are panoramic (7x36) or poster size and 20x30s. Other specialty projects fall in this range, such as documents, crayon portraits, vintage film or positive slide scanning, usually large quantities are involved and because of their individual unique challenges. Also the latest request to convert a Xerox (black n white on plain paper) photograph, into an image that looks more like a photograph.

If you don't know what you have, give us a call and try to describe it and we can usually tell you what it is and the date the image was mostly taken.

This image needs the works and many hours.

(NOTE: Don't forget to factor in the hard copies and CA Taxes)


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Colorizing Estimating




1).  $29.99 - $60

2).  $70 - $ 90

3).  $100 - and up

Some times it's better and cost effective to simply turn a photo into a black and white, That would be the first range.






(NOTE: Prices above do not include hard copy.)

  1. This type of coloring is more like a special effect. the background is one color  and only the subject is colorized to bring it out and not necessarily a realistic color.

  2. Is colorizing the simply but more artistic and more detailed.

  3. The third range is colorizing every single detail of a detailed photo.

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Understanding Color Issues

When bringing back the color to these faded photos, your expectation of color is subjective.  What one person calls cherry red, someone else calls orange.  What color is on your screen and what color comes out on your paper are different.  You will never achieve the exact color you remember.  There are many reasons why coloring in a photo are subjective.  Just to name a few, there is the influence of the color lighting in a studio or outdoors, even the color of the clothing worn effects the coloring of the skin or eyes.  It is very difficult to tell the true color of someone's eyes in a photo and really doesn't matter when the photo is on a wall 5 feet away, you get the idea.

The objective to coloring these types of photos are to be able to display again, not necessarily to match your remembrance or obtain perfect skin or eye color.  The essence of the person is still captured.

For more information on color see our "Colorizing" section.



Archival Print Quality Prices 

Luster is used for all prints unless gloss is requested.

The majority of the cost is the restoration.  All sizes, from wallets to 20x30 are achievable, these are standard sizes and prices for an estimate.

 (bulk pricing is available)

2.5 x 3.5 mini wallets on 5 x 7 sheet


4 x 6


5 x 7


8 x 10


11 x 14


12 x 18


16 x 20


Note: Standard sizes are most desirable because it saves you money by not having to buy custom mats and frames. When ever photos are not a standard size we crop and resize the photo to a standard size of choice. Only when a photograph has specific objects in the background of interest that would be lost in cropping, that we then, set the photo on the closest standard sheet and print the photo "as it is" and crop off the remainder empty space. The other option is to have us extend the sides of the photograph to achieve the ratio need to become a standard, which elevates the price of restoration depending on the amount of time spent to achieve that goal.



Options for Badly Damaged Photos

Always remember these are e s t i m a t e s.  I could be less, see bulk rates.

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  Extreme Bad Condition Original

$80.clean face

$200. and up for best possible


Some people like the photo to look old and choose to clean it up a bit like these samples.




(NOTE: Prices above do not include hard copies and CA taxes.)

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With some restorations like these samples, the client can make a choice.  As with any restoration, such as the restoration performed on a classic car, or an old house, the total cost is determined by the desired end result of our clients. One photo is rarely just enhancing or just repairs, many techniques are used with all photos. The intent of this sample is an attempt to give you a simple estimate. Some client prefer it their vintage photos old and torn looking, with no change to the coloring, only repairing the worst damage or making it whole.


Once you figure about how much the restoration is, add the price of the prints plus copies and Tax. 


All About Electronic files 101.

Electronic files/ digital files are images that have been scanned.

In the past, through the years since we have been in business the policy of electronic files has changed often. We use to charge for the electronic file to discourage requesting the electronic file for the obvious reason that once you have the electronic file you could print it yourself and we lost the repeat revenue of people needing copies. We also still keep all our client images on file a service that few have need but were grateful for when they lost their photos and we had them. The second important reason is we had control of the printing quality to insure you had the best print possible from that electronic file. Now in 2015 we give the electronic file away when requested because our competition gives it away they could care less if you return to them or not. We still keep client photos on file for their convenience, they call us and they get it in the mail or pick it up.

Most people want hard copies of the images we restore because they appreciate the convenience or don't have the knowledge or equipment. Yet others have the technical savvy and want an electronic file they scan the hard copy them themselves to do as they wish, like make a bazillion copies or publish a book. 

Some people want hard copies and an electronic file from us because they may not have a scanner and want electronic files to share with family or add to their genealogy software and not necessarily for printing although they could. Also, they do not want to have to locate a photo lab or go to a self service printing kiosk. Our clients have informed us that the prints from chain stores were not good for several reasons. They either didn't appreciate the color of the image or the image was too light/dark and often part of the image would be lost due to the wrong ratio for the size chosen.

Some people only want digital files and no hard copies at all. They have in mind that they are saving money and maybe they are but sometimes they run into problems. They want to choose their own print service or print it themselves because the prints are cheaper elsewhere.  If they do their own printing they will soon figure out the down falls of DIY. For one you may have to have it reprinted several times because each time you print the same image it can be darker or lighter, or you don't know it could be better (lighter or darker) and except it as is the first time. If you DIY, it may fade in a short time, if you don't have proven quality ink and paper. Also your monitor needs to be calibrated with the monitor of the printer service you use otherwise your photos will have color problems too. Some people want our origin electronic/digital file of the restored image thinking it's better than a scan of the finished restoration because the don't trust their own scanning skills. By letting us do the printing this process and guessing is eliminated, or ignorance is bliss or inferior quality is satisfactory. 





Scanning Service

California Residence add current tax to order.


  •  $0.75 to 3.00 per scan, for images 8x10 and under. The difference in price depends on specific requirements such as: dpi, quantity and if the images are loose (ready to scan) or still in scrapbooks.  If you choose automatic one step restoration, minor touch-ups and want us to crop and resize images making them "ready to print". In any case, no file organizing or naming.

  • Scans over 8x10 and are flat $29.99, convex images $59.99. 

  • Film and slides are treated the same as photographs.

  • At genealogy conventions, we will scan images 8x10 and under (time permitting or minimum of 5 per client, at no cost) to any digital device you provide.

Scanning Topics

If you want to send images to us via e-mail to evaluate, we need a quality raw scan. All photos need to be scanned at "True Color, color depth 24 bit" as a minimum even if they are black and white. Please use a jpeg format and a minimum of 300 dpi unless you require enlarging (read about resolution below). Select the image only, not a scan of the entire scan bed.  Turn off all automatic filter adjustments, such as Color Correction, Unsharp Mask, Descreening, Dust Removal or Backlight Correction. These options are found in the scanning process as either an option or a user preference setting.  If you don't know, you may want to review your specific scanners documentation or on-line help index to determine how to do this with your specific scanner. Please do not send PDF files.

We use only jpeg formats now unless a client specifically request the use of a loss-less format. Since starting this business in 1999 we have come to the conclusion that working with lossless files was splitting hairs. Detecting signs of quality or information lost in a photograph is not possible by the human eye, when using a jpeg format just as long as  the amount of times you make changes and save it.  You would have to do that many times to ruin the photograph. 

In our years of experience we discovered that the standard minimum we require of 300 dpi for a good photo results is not always possible and when a client requested that we work on and print an 8x10 photograph that was only 150 dpi. It wasn't fantastic but it really wasn't bad at all to our surprise, when this is all you have to work with.  All things are relative and we will work with you. 

3. The scan resolution must be fairly high for the finished restoration to be a quality print,.  Rule of thumb to determine scan resolution is, that if no enlargement of the original will be made, can at a minimum of 300 ppi (pixels per inch).  If enlargements are needed, you should scan higher. Use the method below to determine the proper scan resolution:


Magnification Scan Resolution
1X 300
2X 600
3X 900
4X 1200
5X 1500
6X 1800


Example: if your photo measures 4 x 6 inches and you want to enlarge it to a 5x7, you need to many times larger is that? 2X's larger?... so you would scan at 600 and it can be resized later to work on. 




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Chain Store or DIY service VS a Restoration Service.

"why does it cost so much to make a simple copy?"   " I just want a copy"

Permission for the following images are granted to only Photos Made Perfect. Please don't use it.

Original 1941 Gelatin Silver Print, 3.5 x 5 original size, covered with silver which reflects and appears milky when scanned. 

When an image is scanned, the scanner picks up elements of the image we are unable to pick up with our naked eye, but after scanning these problems become obvious. Depending on the age and condition of the photograph being scanned, simple scanning has different results. A more modern photo may look just as good as what you hold in your hand or it can look way worse than the original if it is older like this 1941 gelatin silver. Why, you ask. The photographic process used at the time it was taken determines how the photo damages, in this case it's gelatin silver. In the case of a tintype the image turns almost black and need to be lightened before making a copy. When a request for a simple copy of a photograph without any restoration is made the answer is not so simple. When the scanned photograph is printed, the results is a photograph that is not as good as the original in hand, because every little dent, spot or crease is exaggerated particularly when automatic filters are used in chain stores to enhance the image for the person who really doesn't understand digital photo technology. All they know is they want a copy of a photograph. The only option they get is the ability to move around a bad crop. If you don't scan it at a high enough dots per square inch (dpi), when you crop tight the photo may blur due to low dpi.


This image is chain store copy our client cropped and enlarged to a 4x6. She was not happy with the results. 

In a short time it faded and she just didn't like it because it wasn't as sharp as the original. This loss of sharpness can happen if it was not scanned at a high enough dpi then cropped and/or to automatic filters that deliberately blur the image to appear softer. This is done because often a photo does look nicer softened and it diminishes dust, spots, fibers from paper composition. It may be an default or possibly an option with some systems in chain stores. Some automatic default filters sharpen or color correct when it didn't need either of them. So sharpening or color correction, it makes it look harsh. Not knowing the technical terms people just say I don't what it is, I just didn't like it.

The fade is because of poor quality printing paper or ink. You can see the original color at the bottom. This photo needed to have an image editing professional to make the decisions of what would make it look it's best in accordance to how much the client wanted to spend .


This is just a copy for the catch all price of $29.99 to remain competitive with light restorations. It could be less (see bulk prices). We re-scanned the original and minimum time was spent to achieve better color and touch up and the size remained a 4x6. Our prints will not fade in your lifetime under normal conditions. In our opinion, her forehead was still washed out and the crop could be tighter so that her face is more prominent (a person option).

Part of our work is to educate the public about the wonders of image editing and it's limitations. Our client expectations were low because she did not know what was possible so just getting a copy is what she was looking for. Once we demonstrated what was possible she opted for our simple copy which did evolve minor restoration to achieve a decent copy. When the client saw this version she was happy. But wait! Please read on.


In this image she decided to pay more to color, correct the overexposed forehead, color the jewelry on her dress, a tighter crop and enlarge to a 5x7.

At our last sit down we demonstrated color but opted for the sepia tone but then thought about it and came back. She decided it was worth it to her to pay double the amount of a simple restoration to see her mother come to life in color and remained a 4x6. We talked about enlarging to an 8x10 and explained it would cost more because going as large as an 8x10 things that did not show up as a 4x6 will diffidently show up as an 8x10, like the graininess of the photo paper. 



okay , you say so what if it has texture. We demonstrated what it looked like smooth and minimized the appearance of the shadow on her cheeks and upper eyelids and she was sold. So we created an 8x10 under $100.
























 Although, this is the beautiful finished This presentation does not do the tangible version justice because most images such as this one are resized for digital viewing which means it is reduced in size to assure the page loads quickly, so for this reason some may see flaws in it, besides my logo. 

This is the finished 8x10 in color, the original on the right top and "just a copy" that she originally wanted to the right below. This copy IS better than any DIY/chain store if that really is all you want for only $29.99. Why would you want only just a copy of a damaged photo for $5.00 at a kiosk in a chain store.



















Scanning & Storage

Digital Frenzy: Have all your photos scanned onto any digital device, then you can transfer them to any medium that comes along in the future. Store your originals away in a fire proof box and view them on any digital device as often as you want without damaging your photos further. Once on digitalized you can print copies for everybody, e-mail them to your friend, share them on internet, and make PowerPoint presentations for all kinds of events.  If you do not have a scanner or you are already scanning more than you care to, save time and  let Photos Made Perfect scan for you. Photos to Video is the scrapbook of the future, we have a list of Video people in our custom gifts pages.

The downside of technology: While being able to use digital devices and enjoy them today, there is a downside to the latest and greatest technology. Storing photographs to the latest technology means that your descendant will have to have the device to access the photographs and if they don't. If your descendant lacks the means to purchase devices to access the photograph not only will they not see them but the generation after that will have to hunt down the old technology device to access them. Last word on this is, printing photographs is always the best preservation. 

Storage: Store your originals in an dark, dry, acid free and a temperature controlled environment. More reading on this topic, visit Library of Congress.

Future Packaging & Preservation LLC  (archival supplies division) has acid free papers and plastics to store often used as well as "Scanned once and put away safely" photos, clippings, and important documents, PH pen for detecting alkaline and much more.  For more information call 800-786-6627 in 1580C W. San Bernardino Rd, Covina CA 91722




Article from Sept 1999 PC Photo Magazine


Scanning Success.  You get the best final images when you start with the best scans. 

Text and Photography by Graeme Fordyce


Working on your own images is one of the most gratifying things to come from the rise of computers in the home. There's tremendous satisfaction in taking a photo, seeing it through the scanning and processing workflow then printing out this beautiful product of your efforts.  All scanning is more than a matter of plugging a print or slide into a chunk of hardware, though. There's more under the surface, and these tips should help smooth and improve  your approach, as well as prevent some of the gremlins that can creep into the scanning process.


Know what you are buying, and look for the best you can afford. Everything looks impressive in the ad and sounds amazing when the salesperson is trying to move a product. Know the fundamental film and flatbed scanner characteristics to seek.  The are: high optical resolution, large bit depth (at least 36-bit) and wide dynamic range (at least 3.6, on the scale from 0 to 4.0).  The type of connectivity is no small matter either--it will affect the data transfer rate a great deal (SCSI is the fastest, then USB, then parallel port).  Flatbed scanners with CIS are very compact, but CCD sensors still offer better scan quality.




Here's the estimating formula:


Restoration price

 + Print (hard copy) price (optional)

 + Electronic file (optional)

 + Shipping (optional)

 + Expediting/rush fee (optional)

   + CA state tax  or (out of state, no tax)


= Total Cost



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Turn Around Time

The usual turn around time is 4-7 business days.

This allows time to deal with weekends, difficult images, a heavy flow of incoming work and interruptions from weekends, single day holidays, high holidays and personal events such as vacation and sick days due to the fact that one person is doing all the restorations. There is no out-sourcing. 

The only time this rule is broken is for funerals, we are sensitive to the situation and can have the image ready usually in 24 business hours or in time for the wake or funeral based on individual circumstances. All others that want the restoration done ASAP, won't mind paying expediting fees of $50. The great majority of clients desiring a restoration are not in any hurry and prefer a job well done without pressure, thank you for this greatly appreciated leeway. 

Why Some Photos Cost So Much










Looking at the original, it appears to have only yellowed and only a few spots and stains on the sky.  However, after removing the yellow you can now see the overall filth and blotches.  This will take more time then first thought.  With these types of yellowed photos, this is usually the case. Which brings us to our next topic....Is it worth it? It may or may not depending on many circumstances that only you can determine.






Restoring Poor Photos

Understanding the limitations of restoring or improving a poor quality image.


 Already Had Work Done?  

Let us have a look and we can tell you if we could have made it better! 

Keeping It Real



This is the original. It is not a great candidate for restoration because it is only 2x2 inches, not in focus and covered with tiny cracks and grime.  Enlarging it to be able to see it better is desirable but comes at a price. It takes more time, patience and skill so that you don't see the work that has been done.  When it is completed, what you have is a restored version of a poor quality image.  So the out-come is more time and money spent for the least gratification.  







With that said, all things are relative. If the image is important to you, it is worth every attempt to at least restore it to it's original state, even if that state is only repaired and not better than the original.  Too often people expect miracles because they have seen a beautiful but damaged photograph restored and made better than the original, not understanding that it was possible because the photograph was a quality image to start with.   We tell you all this upfront, there are zero surprises.





This image was done by another company. The client was not happy.  The damage is gone but the eyes have changed, she doesn't look like herself and they made no attempt to fix her collar.  Simply put this image has been OVERWORKED.  





The image below is our interpretation of the same image.


This looks more like the tiny original, minus the damage!  The client, now understanding the limitations of poor quality images, was satisfied and was happy to pay for this restoration. The Final was an 8x10!

Poor quality images, with will always be a poor image. What you end up with is a restored poor image. Restoration is restoring to it's original state. These images fall into our "guarantee exception" policy below. Photos that are out of focus, can not be made to be in focus. 



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Money Back Guaranteed




We guarantee 100% satisfaction with our work.  If you are not satisfied, we will try to make things right.  If you are still not happy after all is said and done, you have a money back guarantee with the return the photos within 15 days. 


The Exception - Sometimes as in  this case seen here below.  If we tell you that your photo can be restored to a better state than it is but in our professional opinion you may not be please and you still want to go forward.  We tell you up front that we do not give you your money back after putting so much time into the photo. 


Too much general damage. At times the end results can only be as good as the detail that is there to work with in the first place.  If the photo is not in focus before, neither will the after be.  Too much damage results in the photo appearing more like a drawing. Depending on how you feel about the particular photo, this may be acceptable. Our client was satisfied.














Bulk Rates = Savings you can't get in chain stores.




All things are Negotiable, there is no negotiating like this with any other company.  We cater to genealogist, scrapbookers and anyone who has inherited the responsibility of rescuing their family history through photos. When someone comes in with just one photograph we have a minimum of $29.99, but if you set everything you would like done on the table we can help you get it all done. We consider and quote the worst and all other photos with minor repairs we practically give away.  So it's to your benefit to get all your photographs together at one time.


 Make an appointment to see what we can do for you.  619-397-7600 8AM - 8 PM PST.


If your photo looks like these, we don't expect success.

Sometimes we can lighten and enlarge a photo and discover that it's in pretty good shape, most of the times we see this, and it's just not restorable. This is why quotes over the phone are not recommended. Some people are glad to pay $5.00 just for the scan and enlargement even if it's bad, just to be able to put to rest the question of "who was in the photo" or say "at least I can see it now".




Their faces are blurred and cloudy. Then there is actual physical damage. There isn't anything we can do about blur, some clients ask us to restore a bad photo makes them feel better.







There is not very much hope for these at all. The time spent to make them better would make it too expensive and still not good. 





  Be an Educated Consumer 


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Genealogy Corner 

Main Page

Search for relatives in rescued photo albums with full names!


Read about the value of photographs.


Learn what decade a photo was taken?



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Be An



It's a huge mistake to choose a restoration service based on price or distance from your home alone.


Compare apples to apples.

(read pros and cons of each)







Image Editing

Price Wars 

(a must read!)

Lets talk about a photo restoration costing only $29.99. The old adage,

"You get what you pay for" still applies.



Bulk Rates



Custom Gift Ideas

With Photographs











Before and After Military Restorations






Scrapbooking Inspirations and Solutions

Handling and Storage of Photographic Materials

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Since 1999!




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Last Update

Always a work in progress, please visit often. We apologist for any long periods between entries some times medical issues prevail.

 Rev. 06/23/2017






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