Depending on how damaged the photo is, you can get a program called "photoimpressions" which I use. I am actually redoing some old family photos and you can do all sorts of tricks with this program: Tears, discoloration, lighten, darken, touch up smudges, old spotting on photos, etc. If you are interested please post again and I can give you more info. Also, if you don't want to bother with this, just phone up a camera shop and they can tell you where you can take these photos to be touched-up. You can't harm the picture itself as you have to scan the picture into photoimpressions. You still have the original photo, but have put the scanned image into 'pictures' to work on. I restore many pictures for family and friends and haven't had a complaint yet. They get the original photo back and the scanned photo that I have amended.
I would add that this is not restoration in any correct sense, but corrective manipulation of copies. The potential for physical restoration of a photograph depends on the nature of the damage, but in most cases is very limited. Scratched negatives can be retouched to a degree. The potential for scratched paper prints is much less (in truth, virtually impossible), so they may require the manipulations decribed above. Daguerreotypes are often found tarnished. There are chemical processes for restoring them to their original state, but cleaning should only be done by experts. The lightest touch of even a butterfly wing to the surface of a Daguerreotype will scratch it irreparably, so no physical contact should ever be made with the surface of the plate. In a few cases, cleaning chemicals can have long-term adverse effects on the image, so cleaning should be undertaken only in the most extreme need and only by highly qualified restorers. Photo restoration is something around which academic degrees are built, so it isn't something to be taken on lightly .
You should use someone who has a lot of expertise with this so they don't ruin the original picture.
Addendum: If you're talking about an old B&W photograph, retouching 'colors' and a 00 brush were used before digital manipulation came about.Spotone was available in neutral,cold,and warm black liquids, which was diluted with water, and a few drops were put on an impermeable surface to dry.Once dried, you'd wet the 00 or 000 brush with your tongue,take up some colour on your brush, test the intensity on your thumbnail, then apply toner with the very tip of the brush, a pinhead-sized bit at a time,(hence the term"Spotting)SLOWly building up intensity until the spot was the same tone as the original.If the photo was of any value and likely to be reproduced again, the retouched print was then copied, giving a 'new' negative.B&W negative retouching was done, but was more difficult, and the risk of further damaging the negative was always present.Colour retouching was also done, using Kodak Retouching Colors, but was far more involved, and best left to professional retouchers .
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