It was a big restoration, a true panoramic group shot from the thirties, over one hundred people, with about thirty heavily damaged (or even missing) faces. One does what one can, borrowing a hairline from one person, a nose from another, eyes from a third, a mouth and chin from a fourth. Working with a hundred megabyte file, thank goodness I could go monochrome and restore the color later. After 6 hours of work on it (off and on) I got to "know" those people in the photo fairly well. I started to imagine what they would have been like, how their lives had been shaped by their work. I wonder how many could have foreseen that in only a few years they would be over two thousand strong, building ordinance and military machinery for use in World War II. But in this picture, taken on a summer's day in 1937, all of that is far over the horizon. They seem to be glad to take a break from their jobs, some clown a bit, several are smoking. I start to think of my own work experience- pushing pixels around is a lot cleaner, and easier, but it too becomes tedious after a while.
Later on in the week, after I'd finished the restoration and printed the image, the man who ordered it came in. He was overjoyed with the results, luckily I hadn't altered his likeness; he spent a good deal of time telling the counter person about his life and work and some of the other people in the group. He was only a teen-ager when the picture had been taken, now he was in his late eighties. The photograph wasn't entirely real, but it was real enough to rekindle the memory of a old man.