About a year ago, I was working on the memoir of an elderly lady. The project was commissioned by her daughter, who had picked out the photos she wanted to include. As I talked to her about enhancing them, she laughed and said I could do whatever I thought best, but leaving them alone was fine with her because they were old and she expected them to look old. Some photographers I have come across consider themselves "purists" in that they will do nothing to change the appearance of an old photo. I find that hard to accept because photos must often be resized, at the very least, to include them in books, which requires scanning very small photos at higher resolutions before they can be enlarged. While it might not be apparent to the naked eye, it does create change.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. Is a photoshopped picture of a sunset more beautiful that the original? What do artists do, if not to create a perception that is unlike one we see through the naked lenses of our eyes? I have an artist friend who said recently that if she creates a portrait that looks just like a picture, then there is no point to her art. Is reality what we see or what we think, some combination of the two, or is it what others tell us is true? How does the role of a personal historian fit in with all of this? I'm not too sure, anymore, but hopefully that's because I am evolving and not jut befuddled. The only firm opinion I have at this point is that old photos should be preserved, but that is a topic for another blog article perhaps. Here are a couple of before and after of my family's old photos, so you be the judge! The originals are their actual size, scanned at 300 DPI. The first, that of my great-grandmother when she was 18, was taken in 1887. The second, that of my father when he was in the Army Air Corps, was taken around 1944.