Interested in restoring photos for us or simply curious about the process? Click here to register after reading this page.

I want to become a photo restoration volunteer!

Great! But please don't offer to help unless you're ready to make a solid commitment and (unlike this 'gentleman') come equipped with a respectful, professional, ego-free attitude. Help us manage family expectations and cut back on wasted administrative hours. Here's why:

→  Only 40% of all registrants have ever adopted/restored a photo. 
→  Only 10% of inactive registrants respond when asked if still willing to help out.
→  20% have abandoned (>300) adopted photos, usually without notification/apology. 
→  Only 20% of TEST IMAGE requesters ever return a completed TEST IMAGE. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: since we have only 3 photos remaining in our Beginner adoption albums CARE for Sandy is no longer registering volunteers with novice Photoshop skills. 

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 restore at least one photo for a deserving Sandy victim for FREE? And you've at least skimmed if not fully read this info page? 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, our registration form includes instructions on how to request a "TEST IMAGE" . 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.

Average response time 1-4 days. If you do not have samples that are at least 4" x 4" at 300dpi (up-resing doesn't count!), you will be asked to complete a "TEST IMAGE". Web resolution 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 advanced is "Advanced"?

Many of y'all check "Expert" or "Advanced" on our registration form's skill level column, however our own definition of advanced will probably differ. Advanced volunteers need to be high-end professional retouchers/restorers (e.g. with advertising, film, illustration, museum or beauty clients). Meaning badass pros who pay all or the majority of one's bills via the former. Amateur enthusiasts who have provided EXCEPTIONAL samples that demonstrate the ability to realistically reconstruct faces, hands, skin and missing areas in general without significant coaching may also be considered.

Most "Advanced" photos are going to require at least 15 hours to restore. Below are a few expertly restored before/afters to inspire. (Actual dimensions of most restorations below: at least 8x12 at 300dpi if not significantly larger.)

How do you define "Beginner" and "Intermediate"?

Beginner" photos will not require sophisticated techniques nor challenging reconstruction, but will likely require oodles of spot healing. Expect to spend 2-10 hours on a "Beginner" image — fewer hours if experienced, longer if you've still got a lot to learn or if a photo happens to be extra dirty. (Staff can help with "Beginner" color correction.)

Intermediate" photos are going to require at least 5 hours to restore, if not double or triple or quadruple this amount. Major reconstruction or challenging color issues are common with "Intermediates".

Keep in mind that many of our most effusive family memos have arrived in praise of “simple” images! Restored "Beginners" also help us help lots more families with greater speed. Meaning don't equate “less complex” with "not as valuable". Quite the contrary!

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 send a "CARE Package" 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.

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

Response has been spectacular —follow-through...not so much. Since CARE for Sandy's inception (11/10/12) roughly 650 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, only 40% (!!!) of all registrants have completed a restoration, plus more than 325 adopted images have been abandoned without notification or apology. Fresh recruits are always welcome.

What type of damage is common?

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 deadlines I need to be aware of?

Once you've formally "Adopted" a photo, and have received a high-resolution download, you'll be asked to submit a restoration within three months. Need more than three months or find yourself unable to fulfill your commitment? No problem, as long as we're notified in a timely way, i.e. before a given deadline has passed. (Please show us the same professional respect you'd show an employer or paying client by remaining communicative.)

I’m concerned about unrealistic expectations. Do families realize not all damage may be possible to repair?

Yup. Which is why assistance seekers are directed to our Photo Submisions FAQ page.

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. If you don't hear from us within 7-10 days of registering, our correspondence may have gone missing. Let us know!

PLEASE MONITOR YOUR SPAM BIN THE WEEK YOU REGISTER, in case our HTML mailer has been erroneously filtered as junk!

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

Click here for details or reference your HTML Welcome Mailer for instructions.

How do you distribute high-resolution "Adoption" files?

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 a by-line hyperlinked to one self-promotional url of your choosing. Our images are also frequently requested by the press. Plus we often tweet restorations and sometimes post before/after beauties on Facebook.

Can I display my finished restoration(s) in my portfolio?

If your restoration has not been approved by staff to send to its family — sorry, you may not. If your restoration has been approved by CARE staff to send to its family - possibly, if the family grants permission and if your restoration meets our quality standards. But please request permission before doing so in case of family conflict, as our legal waivers do not cover non-CARE usage. If granted permission, please make sure to mention the restoration was completed for CARE for Sandy. Never place a watermark or personal © symbol on any of our images. (Volunteers do not hold copyrights.)

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

Whenever possible we share family "Thank you!" messages with volunteers because, makes everyone smile. But 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. 

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.

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

Check out our family info page.

Do you offer any technique tips & tricks?

Our Restoration Toolbox page currently hosts a few tutorial videos plus general guidance, including what techniques to avoid. But the best place (other than youtube) to seek out help is via our private *Google Community Volunteer forum. If you have or would be willing to create a Gmail account, you'll be invited to join. Guest moderators and peers post questions, tips, tricks and general discussion topics that have successfully helped many overcome sticky RIP issues.

*No longer active. Google+ shut down all communities!

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

Probably not. Working with schools provides fantastic learning experiences for students, but has not benefitted CARE for Sandy. Return rates for restorations have been astoundingly low, for instance a Philadelphia college submitted only 25% of its adopted images (none met CARE's quality standards), three 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 10-15 minutes to process every adoption, and another 10-15 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 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?