This photograph from the early 1900s shows three children dressed up and riding horseback. I can only assume that they were on their way to somewhere important because of their attire, and it demonstrates what a hardy breed of people they were, because they don't look all that miserable! I tell you all of this because it's difficult to see that in the photograph as it is. The detail in the faces appears nearly completely lost. There is some minor surface damage. But my biggest concern is recovering details. I can see that it was a bright but overcast, white day, creating a low contrast light, which can make for a very flat image because shadows are nearly nonexistent. In this case, it's not a huge problem because there is enough tonal variation in the clothing, animals, and plants to give the photo some depth.
I want to have a large pixel count for this image, because I want as much data to work with as I can. This will save me time and provide flexibility in how I recover the image. I don't want poor digital quality to hinder photo quality and put limits on restoration or reprinting. That said, with this photo I didn't scan it; I took another picture of it to get the format I wanted. This was a good option for me, though others may choose to scan it.
After some adjustments to color, exposure, contrast, etc, I cleaned up the damage and got to work on the details. Clearing the haze brought a surprising amount of detail back in, but the children's faces needed some definition and the tonal values in the horses and clothing, as well as background needed freshened up. After adding some highs and lows, and even some light shadows under the horses, some dimension and texture came back into the picture.
While it is great fun to exaggerate and dramatize images like is often done in today's creative photography, with historical restoration images, the objective is to make it look as if it is refreshed rather than looking recreated. To do this, it's important to respect the original integrity of the photo and enhance rather than recreate the image, to the extent possible. This way there is still a sense of age and character to the photo while simultaneously being refreshed and repaired. Even though I spent hours on this photo, I don't want it to be obvious that I was there.