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Operation Photo Rescue will set up shop at the Joplin Public Library, located at 300 South Main Street, Friday and Saturday October 7th and 8th 9am to 6pm. Randy Henderson will be there and he explains what he and the others with Operation Photo Rescue will do when people bring in their damaged photos.
“We take a copy stand and high-end digital cameras. We actually photograph the damaged photographs. The next step in the process is that we upload them to our servers, which are sponsored by photoshelter.com. They’re put into categories. We have 2,000 volunteers in 45 countries and all 50 states, who will go on, look at the photos, and determine whether they are to their level of expertise with retouching. They’ll write to the moderator and say, ‘I’ll take this one.’ Then, typically, anywhere between a few hours and three weeks it takes them to repair these photos.”
A company donates the printing and shipping costs, making the entire process free to the owners of damaged photos. Operation Photo Rescue began in 2006 when some photojournalists covered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Since then, it’s grown and has helped victims of other natural disasters. Volunteer photo retouch specialist Randy Henderson, who lives in Springfield, says he felt strongly about offering the services of this non-profit to the people of Joplin.
“When we were over in Joplin, there were hundreds and hundreds of insurance adjusters over there. They were literally putting a price on a house, a car, whatever it was. Well, you can’t put a price on your great-grandfather’s photograph. You can’t put a price on your mother and father’s wedding photograph. So, if we can help people get these memories back, it’s a great thing.”
You may wonder how the volunteers are able to retouch photos that, in some cases, are badly damaged. Henderson reveals one of the tricks of the trade.
“If we get a photograph where let’s say one of the eyes is torn out of the photograph, a lot of times, I’ll just cut the other eye out, reverse it, and put it on the other side of the face and see if I can get away with that. Some of these are really damaged photographs where you have entire pieces of people missing or half of a wedding dress is gone.”
In retouching badly damaged photos, Henderson says he sometimes puts the drawing skills of his wife to use; she has an advanced art degree. Henderson and the other photo retouch artists with Operation Photo Rescue will get put to the test with photos salvaged from the destruction the May 22nd tornado left behind in Joplin. Operation Photo Rescue will copy up to 20 photos per person during its two day event at the Joplin Public Library October 7th and 8th. The group will be there 9am to 6pm both days. You’ll find a link to more information on our website, KSMU.org.