This is a fairly simple restoration project, especially when using Photoshop CS5 with content aware fill tools. The first step in restoring a photo like this, is to get a good image of it for a starting point. This particular image presented some challenges here because it came out of a frame where the glass was convex and the image was painted on cardboard that took on the shape of the glass. What this meant was scanning the image was out of the question as this would further damage the image when attempting to get it to lay flat. So the option left is to take a picture of the image, which is what I did.
If you look at the “Before” image, you can see the pins I used to hold the image to a white board so I could take a picture. For the picture, I used f/8 at 1/320 sec with flash from two SB-700 speed-lights (one on each side of the camera at 45 degree angles to the image) bounced in 24 inch umbrellas to provide nice even light. Once I had the image, I imported it into Lightroom and made some minor adjustments in blacks, whites, contrast, vibrance, clarity, and saturation so the color was a good match to the original. Then I opened the adjusted image in Photoshop CS5 so I could use the content aware fill tools to repair the damage on the faces and clothes. I used the spot healing brush set for content aware fill and set the brush size just slightly larger than the damaged area (did one at a time) and painted over the damage. Photoshop then magically filled in and repaired the damage. I did this for every damaged area except around the border, and the spot on his eye.
To repair his eye, I selected and copied a portion of the other eye and pasted it into place over the damaged area. Then used the clone stamp tool to blend the edges of the patch. I also used the clone stamp tool to reconstruct her nose as the content aware spot healing tool didn’t repair this as well as I had hoped.
After the other repairs were complete, I used the clone stamp tool to repair the damage around the edges of the photo, sampling (often) close to the damage areas so I could maintain color and textures. Then saved the image and returned to Lightroom for final adjustment of applying sharpening to the image. The end result is what you see in the “After” image.
Restoring old photos is not as hard as some imagine, and it can be a lot of fun. So before you toss the old damaged photos, you might want to consider restoring them!