Special team brings flood-damaged photos back to life

Fri, Mar 31

Precious photographs damaged in the floods are being brought back to life thanks to a special team of experts at Fujifilm.

They're working their magic to fix the seemingly unfixable, starting in the Hawke's Bay.

One by one, thousands of photographs have been lovingly restored.

Fujifilm's Peter Bonisch said the process begins with cleaning the photographs where they can before drying them.

"A lot of them are coming in wet. The ones that are coming in dry, we're actually able to act on a little bit quicker. So like I say, it's a bit of a trial and error as we go," he explained.

Hawke's Bay resident John Hogan was among those who appeared to have lost everything in the days after Cyclone Gabrielle.

But now, thanks to the team, precious photographs of his wedding and two friends who have since died have been brought back to life.

"It really gives us a lot of hope," he said.

"I mean, it's just fantastic. We had nothing. We had no photos, we thought we'd never save anything — you can replace furniture, you can replace property or whatever, but you can't replace this."

Fujifilm's Daniel Fellingham said it's all about "helping people preserve their memories and that's what's important to them, right? Especially heritage photos or family photos that... people are no longer with us."

"You see the emotion that's quite raw and these people have been through a huge experience and to be able to give a little bit of kindness back."

Bonisch said the team have "all got a duty to help".

"You look at what's gone on down here and if what we're doing just helps a little bit, then we have an obligation to do it," he said.

"Photos are at the heart of what we do so it's something we can help with genuinely."

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