Making Good Color Copies of Photos

By Patti Swoboda Premium

Copy-Shop Talk
Using color copies in your scrapbook lets you preserve your original photos—and it’s often less expensive than ordering reprints. (If you’re making your own original from, say, a relative’s photo, though, use a photo kiosk or scan the image and print it on photo paper). Follow these guidelines to get the best color copies possible:

  • Make sure the copier’s glass is clean.
  • A copy is only as good as the original. If your photo’s seen better days, take it to a photo restorer. Or try the do-it-yourself software tricks in the April 2004 Family Tree Magazine.
  • The larger the original, the better the copy. You can always make a reduced-size duplicate, but enlarging a small photo can result in a fuzzy or distorted copy.
  • Remove pictures from frames whenever possible. A frame creates shadows, and the glass causes glare, both of which show up on your copy. If you can’t safely remove the photo, take it to a restoration expert. Nix page protectors and plastic overlays, too.
  • A dark photo makes for an even darker copy. Experiment with the halftone option on the color copier to lighten things up by a few shades.
  • Ask your local copy shop about the toner in its machines: You want a water-insoluble, fade-resistant, chemically stable and pH-balanced toner. Bring your own archival paper.
  • If you’re using a do-it-yourself copier, ask the staff for help the first time, and check your first copy before making another. Otherwise, include specific instructions for cropping and resizing with your copy order.
  • Experiment with adjusting color levels and changing color photos to black and white or sepia—this often improves the look of a faded photo.
  • To make multiple copies of a photo, use the Image Repeat option. It exposes your original to the copier’s intense light only once.