Interested in restoring photos for us, or simply curious about the process? You've arrived at the right page.

How do I become a photo restoration volunteer?

So you’re a professional or highly-skilled amateur with impressive Photoshop skills, who is willing to commit to restoring at least one photo for a deserving Sandy victim for FREE? Hooray! Click here to complete our AUTO-FILL RESTORATION VOLUNTEER REGISTRATION FORM.

*You'll be asked for basic contact info, prior restoration samples, a brief description of your qualifications, whether you have facial reconstruction skills, illustration skills and/or formal color correction training plus where you learned about CARE for Sandy. If you do not have applicable samples, indicate thus on your registration form and we'll reciprocate with a "test image" download link. If you are hoping to work on intermediate or advanced images but do not have samples that reflect your suggested skill level, you may also request a "test image". Select registrants (e.g. photographers who have forwarded lightly retouched portfolios) may also be asked to complete a "test image" if provided samples do not demonstrate broad enough capabilities.

NOTE: Average response time 1-7 days. Please make sure to read the guidelines listed on this page. Also make sure your provided samples are large enough to observe details. At least actual size at 300dpi preferred. Tiny jpgs make it difficult to assess skill level!

Hey! Why not me?! If she can do this, so can I!

CARE for Sandy would like to encourage only those with unquestionably non-Ceclilan skills to apply.

How many restoration volunteers have signed up so far, and from where?

Response has been spectacular. Since CARE for Sandy's inception (11/10/12) more than 550 have signed up to help restore photos from all over the world including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, England (UK), Finland, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland (UK), Israel, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and United Arab Emirates. That said, 20% have gone AWOL after adopting images. And only about 150 or so tend to be active at any given time. Fresh recruits are always welcome!!!

How advanced is "advanced"?

We've added this clarification paragraph, as many of our registrants have checked "Expert" or "Advanced" when indicating skill level, however our own definition of advanced will probably differ. Advanced volunteers need to be high-end professional retouchers/restorers (e.g. with advertising, film, museum or beauty clients) -OR- have provided truly advanced samples which demonstrate that a given volunteer has the ability to realistically reconstruct faces, hands, skin and missing areas in general without significant coaching from our staff. Advanced volunteers also need to arrive with an arsenal of techniques for combatting a variety of gnarly surface textures. Especially as we're seeking attention to detail at 200%. *Note that running a family heirloom restoration business will likely not qualify as "professional". We've learned that many who run these sites are self-taught hobbyists, who have lots of not-so-great habits that conflict with commercially-acceptable standards.

Valued volunteers with intermediate/beginner skills will be invited to "adopt" photos from our alternate albums, which are just as essential to repair. In fact some of the most effusive family memos have arrived in praise of 'simple' images! Below are a few advanced before/afters to inspire:

Eek. I'm feeling intimidated. I'm not even sure I have the skills to restore your Beginner photos. Are there other ways to help?!

Absolutely! Most notably if willing to "Adopt a Family" by arranging, paying for and snail mailing photographic prints or frames. We do not have the funds to do so, thus are hoping to find individual "sponsors" like you! Click here to ogle alternate meaningful ways to assist.

I see an image I like. I'm going to drag it to my desktop to restore right away!!!!

While enthusiasm is valued please do NOT attempt to restore an image of any dpi/size if you have not received explicit permission to do so! We will be wanting to assess your skill level before formally granting high-res access and need to make sure that no one's time is wasted. We're a happy small crew over here at CARE for Sandy, thus may not always have an immediate opportunity to transfer an ADOPT ME! image to our ADOPTED! album after it has been formally assigned. An alternate volunteer may have already requested the same photo. Double booking is a can o' worms we're looking to avoid. 

You MUST be a registered/approved volunteer to request to adopt an image.

To keep our hundreds of volunteers and thousands of photographs carefully organized, we also ask that you follow our VERY specific instructions on how to request high-res images.

Crap. I'm really busy with paying gigs. How much time would I need to dedicate?

CARE for Sandy's founder is a busy creative professional, so you're preachin' to the choir — but think about it. How much time do you waste watching ridiculous animal videos each week? Did you really need to linger on Uppercase or The Onion for an extra 37 minutes? Will your friends perish if you don't visit Facebook at least 50 times per day!!? Is a foosball game worth more to you than thankful crocodiles from someone who has lost everything in the Rockaways? Would shaving 10 minutes off your quotidian routine for one month (that's over 4.5 accumulative hours) corrupt your monetized goals? Whether you have 6 or 26 hours to gift — every compassionate hour truly matters.

Are there any deadlines I need to be aware of?

One. Once you've been assigned a photo, i.e. have received a high-resolution scan, you'll be asked to complete its restoration within no more than 3 months. You'll be able to request additional photos to restore thereafter. 20% of our volunteers have been abandoning images, and have not responded to update inquiries. Please do not commit to our cause if you cannot finish 'yours' within 3 months!

I’m concerned about unrealistic expectations. Will recipients be cautioned that not all damage may be possible to repair?

Naturally. Which is why our Photo Submisions FAQ page for assistance seekers gently indicates thus.

How will I know if I’ve been selected to help restore photos?

You'll receive a snazzy html welcome mailer with instructions on how to proceed.

In the past we've turned few away, as our albums contain photos which suit a variety of skill levels, however we have decided to be more discriminating moving forward as our images are dirtier than most have expected, thus pose special challenges. What 'you' might consider Advanced, we might consider Intermediate or Beginner. Coaching Photoshop beginners can be very time-consuming. Our standards are very, very high. Thanks for your patience!

How do you handle file exchanges?

Google-Drive. Though you needn't operate a gmail account to access our download links. (Once welcomed as a volunteer you'll be sent further instructions.) 

Will I receive a photo by-line or other self-promotional opportunities? 

Yes. If requested each of your restored photo(s) will receive by-line(s). Each byline may be hyperlinked to one universal self-promotional url of your choosing. We also plan to occasionally profile select restoration volunteers on our NEWS blog. If you have a personal Sandy story to share, how-to tips for other retouchers or something about yourself you think the world needs to know — ping away.

Will I be able to communicate with individuals I have helped?

By default CARE for Sandy Submission Rules dictate that NO personal information (save for the city and state in which a given photo has been found) provided by photo assistance seekers will be shared with the public (including first and last names) unless an individual has specifically requested that we do so. Privacy is important to CARE for Sandy. However if an individual or family requests to connect with a volunteer to say "Thank you!", and if a restoration volunteer wishes to share his/her personal contact info, CARE for Sandy will make this possible.

Can I write-off my CARE for Sandy hours on tax day?

No. Believe it or not, hourly write-offs are never IRS-permissible. We learned this, as one of our restoration volunteers is a part-time IRS employee! ("You cannot deduct the value of your time or services, including...the value of income lost while you work as an unpaid volunteer for a qualified organization.") Read page 166 of this pub by way of proof. If Uncle Sam discounts currently matter more than heart strings, this may not be the right opportunity for you, anyhow.

I've been chosen. What now? How do I get started on my first image?

Click here for details.

What happens to an image after it's been adopted?

This is best explained on this family info page.

Do you offer any technique tips & tricks?

Our Restoration Toolbox page currently hosts 3 tutorial videos plus general guidance. We intend to produce more videos. But the best place to seek out help is via our private Google Community Volunteer forum. Once a registered member, if you have or would be willing to create a Gmail account, you'll be invited to join. 135+ volunteers use it to date. Guest moderators and peers post questions, tips, tricks and general discussion topics that have successfully helped many overcome sticky RIP issues.

I teach a Photoshop course. Can you provide bulk adoptions for my students?

Working with schools provides fantastic learning experiences for students, but has not benefitted CARE for Sandy families or staff. Return rates for restorations have been shockingly low, for instance one college in Philadelphia submitted only 25% of its adopted images (none met CARE's quality standards), 3 months late and only upon inquiry, with no apology for its abandoned 75%. The coordinating instructor didn't even provide student names, opting to take full credit himself! 

It takes 10 minutes to process every adoption, and another 10 to reinsert the image into our database should it be abandoned or not pass muster. A mere 50 images can quickly added up. That's nearly 17 wasted administrative hours for Ø net, not including effort spent penning sad notifications to anxious families, tick-tocks dedicated to image selections nor general correspondences with instructors.

To date we've attempted to work with six schools. Manners aside, a mere 5% of returned classroom restorations have been polished enough to accept, making us reluctant to work with newbies in the future. We're willing to consider making an exception if you (the instructor) have a killer advanced portfolio, can provide current student samples, teach an advanced course and can commit to finishing any incomplete or awkwardly rendered restorations, yourself. Share your magnificence here.

Can you say Adobe, too?