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July 2021, Belgium experienced the most destructive floods in its history. The damage caused by the deluge was enormous: over 220.000 houses were destroyed (on a population of 11 million), countless cars, furniture… but also tens of thousands of photos. Although these ruined photos do not represent a lot of financial value, their emotional value and the memories linked to these photos, are priceless. Especially after such a trauma. Because, when you lost everything, you hang on to memories. And memories are kept alive by photos.

Briefing: how could Canon deliver a relevant and valuable contribution in the emotional recovery of the flood-affected area, in sync with its purpose – the commitment to support worthy causes towards local communities as a vital part to bring the world closer to Kyosei.


Thousands of flood damaged photos, a tragedy of a priceless emotional value, at the heart of what is Canon’s core business: photographs. So, in sync with its purpose and to help the disaster area in its emotional recovery, Canon decided to introduce a truly heartwarming initiative, ReStory. A project designed to restore all flood damaged photos. Free of charge. Because photos are memories. And memories are too precious to lose when you already lost everything in the devastating floods.

How does the cleaning of photos work? The first step is an extensive and thorough drying and cleaning process, with the aim to minimize the loss of imagery in the process. Afterwards, the dried and cleaned photos are scanned, digitally retouched and printed.

Canon – together with their partner ‘Object Care’ - provided the funding and the technology to restore as much flood damaged photos as possible.


In order to give the press something to share and talk about, we started our local search for the first victims with flood damaged photos. From that search we found the first 10 people whom photos we restored, asked them to pick the one with the highest emotional value and share the story that goes with it. From that we created a touching documentary of which we knew it would be newsworthy. Then we pitched it to Belgian national and regional press, allowing them to interview the victims featured in the documentary and all the technical people involved in the restauration of the photos. It worked. Massively.


October 20th, a call for flood damaged photos was launched across multiple channels in the Southern half of Belgium (the flood-affected area). A press release and a touching documentary was spread, revealing the stories of the first victims whose precious photos were restored. The whole national press instantly engaged and the first victims restored photos and stories truly touched the entire nation.

The flood damaged photographs are restored to their original state as far as possible (at about 30% are too damaged to be able to restore, meaning that 70% of them CAN be restored!), using a drying and smoothing process, carefully cleaned with cotton swabs and then scanned and digitally processed. All applications to restore pictures can be done at The ReStory-team will then travel to collect the photos. And return them after 4 weeks.


Tens of thousands of flood damaged photos were entered. In total, so far, over 500 pictures have been restored. And returned. Currently, and for the next few months, the restauration will continue to go strong. Until all entered flood damaged photos that can be restored, are restored. It’s fair to say that the Canon ReStory project truly touched the entire Belgian nation. Literally all national media covered the initiative, calling victims out to send in their damaged pictures and spreading a great deal of praise towards such a heartwarming and generous initiative to help Belgium recover from the toll taken by the devastating floods that took place in mid-July.

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