Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Photo Restoration Joy

It will come as no surprise to those who know me and know my work that I have a definitive weakness for vintage and antique photography. In fact, I have several hundred in my personal collection that I have amassed over the years.

Some of these light captures of the past I have purchased, but most have either ben given to me or the photos have simply ended up in my collection by a chance find here or there.

What some of you may not know is that I have spent many years working as a specialist in photo restoration and colorization.

With the holiday season upon us, I thought now would be a good time to publicize the awareness of this skill and offer it as a service for those looking for a unique gift and/or the opportunity to restore, enhance and preserve the esthetic beauty and importance of treasured photographs of family and friends from days gone by.

Here are some examples of recent projects. The “Before” image is placed first followed by the “After” (or restored) version.

Portrait of Young Man circa 1899. Before.

I purchased this photo in a Curio Shop in the Shenandoah Valley several years ago. As you can see, the photo has faded and has several small tears as well as discoloration from a red fluid that had been spilled on the image at some point in the past.

Portrait of Young Man circa 1899. After.

This is the same image after I digitally repaired the tears and the stains. I have also added color and eliminated the fading.

Portrait of Young Man circa 1890 - 1899. Before

This is another image from my collection. Clearly, close to 125 years of time have taken quite a toll on the studio portrait.

Portrait of Young Man circa 1890. After.

This is the same image after the digital restoration job.

Two Sisters and a Dog circa 1890. Before.

Also from my collection, this is an early Kodak Brownie Camera photograph taken somewhere in Philadelphia between 1890 and 1900. This photo is just over the size of a postage stamp.  It has faded greatly and there is quite a bit of fading and discoloration.

Two Sisters and a Dog circa 1890. After.

Here is the image after the restoration. It’s has been enlarged, enhanced and colorized.


Two Sisters circa 1950 - 1960.  Before.

This is an image that I came across online. The condition of the original photograph is quite bad as it is faded, creased and torn in several places.

danceb4Two Sisters circa 1950 - 1960.  After.

Here, I have removed the creases and the tears, enhanced the contrast and levels, cropped and straightened the photo, removed components that threw off the balance and added color.

Q: Can you do this magic for me and save my old torn, faded forgotten photos that I would simply love to have for myself and to use as gifts and future heirlooms to ever-thankful family and friends?

A: Why yes I can.

Q: Is it expensive?

A: Goodness no. I charge $35 an hour and most jobs take about one to two hours – sometimes 3 for very damaged photos. I have a one hour minimum. It’s a small price to pay really to become the toast of your next holiday gift giving celebration and the honor of your family for having the insight and vision to rescue the imagery of your ancestors.

Q: How does it work?

A: You send me the original photo and I’ll make a scan of it. I’ll work from the scan so your original photograph will be mailed back to you after the job is completed unharmed. Once the job is complete, I will email you a link where you can access the digital file as well as one complimentary professionally printed 5” x 7” paper photograph of the restored image ready for you to frame.

For nominal additional costs, I can easily have other prints at a variety of sizes created. Matting and framing is also available or printing on canvas and much more – including books of photographs, or prints on tile and other interesting materials.

For more information – contact me at or via cell at 202-643-2278.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Recent Work

boycabin1A"Winter’s Onset"
Original Digital Photograph and Vintage Ephemera Collage
©2012 Michael Sprouse | All Rights Reserved

This is composed of an original digital photograph that I took in the Shenandoah Valley Halloween weekend in 2011. Though no comparison to Sandy, a super-storm had blanketed the area with several inches of snow.

The snow in the area only lasted a day but it presented some wonderful photography opportunities. I’ve collaged the photo with an image of a boy from a circa 1850’s daguerreotype and some dramatic sky from another one of my digital photographs.

Archival pigment prints of this image can be purchased in my gallery here.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Ye Olde Art Scam

It seems as long as there have been artists making art there have been those ready to rip them off in one way or another.

More likely than not, I bet the first prehistoric cave painters had shifty Neanderthal cave neighbors who offered them a cashier’s check with a sob story in exchange for their work.


Most artists that I know, myself included, work incredibly hard to make their art. Those who have dedicated their life and their careers to art have not done so easily and certainly not without sacrificing the perks of a traditional career (steady paycheck, health insurance, financial stability).

Please pardon the pun – but you get the picture. And because you are so bright,  I don’t have to spend anymore time documenting the “peaks and valleys” life of the artist. But if for some reason you feel the need for more documentation on that, just ask the next person you meet who makes their living as an artist and ask if their career choice has been a piece of cake.

So, imagine my disgust when I received an African Scam email just this morning in my inbox. It’s just one of many I’ve received over the years. Each time I read one, the feeling is akin to stepping in a freshly laid pile of dog filth.

Not a nice sensation eh?

The email had the same story about a young couple of art collectors and their move to Africa from the states, a love of my newly discovered work on my website and the offer to buy several pieces to be shipped to the new address overseas in exchange for a cashier’s check.

The scam really isn’t about getting the work for free. It’s the money. It’s always the money.

What usually happens is that the cashier’s check is purposefully made with an overpayment that the buyer claims is a mistake. They then ask you to deposit the check in your account and to simply wire them the difference.

The scam is in the timing. A kind hearted and gullible artist eager to please a new client and potential new collector will wire the money before it is revealed that the cashier’s check is bogus.

The only possible saving grace is that often the money scam happens before the work is shipped – in fact, the “buyer” often instructs them that a moving company will be in touch with them about shipping the art which never happens. So, usually - but not always - the work remains in the hands of the artists. You can see many examples of these scams on the blog


My response to “Amanda” was as follows -

Amanda -
Thank you for your email of interest in my work. My best advice on how to proceed would be for you to take your generous offer and go fuck yourself with it. In fact, fuck you and your scam you soulless cow. How dare you try to rip off hard working American artists in this manner? Why don't you go back to turning tricks in the streets of Africa for money since you are clearly one desperate and dirty fucking whore.
Thanks again!

Too harsh? No. And that’s how I deal with the African Art Scam. Well, usually I don’t respond at all – but this being Friday. So, artists – don’t allow these skanks to take advantage of you.

Be wise and beware the scam. And please – visit for more information!