For family photographs that have sentimental value, it is possible to scan and repair them digitally. This requires a high-quality scanner, editing software (e.g. Photoshop), a lot of time and considerable retouching skills. However, if you have heavily damaged photographs, it may be of interest to take them to a professional photo restoration service.
The good news is that our photo restoration services fix a lot of photos with water damage. We regularly receive images with telltale signs of mold or water stains, and people are pleasantly surprised to learn how much we can do to help. The simplest method to rescue water-damaged papers and books is to place wet items on blotting paper so that they absorb moisture. Paper towels are a good choice, as long as you stick with plain white ones without the elegant prints.
Avoid using newsprint, as ink can run. If you have photos damaged by water, try this process and see if the photos can be restored. In many cases, immersing photos in clean distilled water and removing dirt from their surfaces will suffice. Always start with those images that do not have negatives or those whose negatives have been damaged. Twyla, although I can't be sure without seeing the affected photos, I think there's a good chance that you can soak the construction paper.
If you do it yourself and to minimize the risk of loss, choose a photo that you can afford to lose. Place some distilled water on a clean, flat tray. Swipe the photo and shake it for 30 seconds to one minute. Then use a sponge or swab to see if you can slide the paper.
If it works, shake the drops and dry them in the sun. The Smithsonian Institute has shared its recommendations for rescuing photographs damaged by water, specifically photographs damaged by floods, but the process remains the same if your photographs have been in some kind of dirty water. Each photo and its damage are different, and this means, unfortunately, that some water damage is irreparable when handled improperly. Both images have varied characteristics that withstand damage differently and will require different restoration techniques. I have 2 photos that I need to restore, 1 of my mother and mine before she died and 1 of my father and me who is badly damaged by water. Sure, I sent you an email with the requirements to scan the image to repair the restoration of water damaged photos. Typically, these rooms have varying temperatures and humidity conditions, breeding ground for water damage and mold in old photographs.
There are a limited number of protocols that certain professional conservationists at AIC have developed that promise to save at least some or at least part of the images that have been stuck due to water damage. I received a full set of water damaged portraits to restore and by borrowing an ear from one and hair from two others, I was able to fix them. However, when I found the 120 mm negative, I discovered that they were damaged by water and that the paper holders were glued to the negative. Whether due to a natural disaster, humidity or more severe contact with water, water damage brings us a lot of photo restoration businesses. When cleaning after a flood or water leak, remember that books and papers don't have to be directly in the water to be damaged.
The best way to keep your photos in excellent condition is to prevent water damage from occurring in the first place.