How to Give Your Photos and Videos a Vintage Look

Like the allure of vinyl records, classic video games and even the early internet, the fascination with older photography standards like point-and-shoot cameras or 35-millimeter film persists — even in people too young to remember when that gear was cutting edge. The appeal of “vintage” photography goes beyond nostalgia and Instagram filters, judging by the huge number of apps designed to emulate the film, lenses and visual quirks of predigital photos and movies.

Despite the irony of using a high-end smartphone camera to produce imperfect images that appear oversaturated, jittery, low-contrast, unfiltered or otherwise analog, going for a retro look can help you practice your composition skills. If you’re not ready to buy original equipment, you can still evoke a different time period’s creative sensibility. Here’s an overview.

Getting Started

Before you dive in, here are some things to keep in mind. First, make sure you can reverse any editing on an original image; making duplicates for your experiments is a safe backup. Second, be aware that some apps capture content with the effects embedded, leaving you with a permanently vintage-looking photo or video.

Both Apple’s Photos app (the left two images) and Google Photos include a basic set of filters and effects that can be applied to photos and videos.Credit…Apple; Google

You may not need extra software, depending on the visual effect you want to achieve. Apple, Google and Samsung all include a variety of filters in their default photo apps, as well as built-in editing tools. You might get satisfactory results by manually adjusting the color saturation, the tint and other elements to make the photo look as if an ancient film camera had taken it.

Exploring Apps

For a wider range of editing features, Wirecutter, the product review site owned by The New York Times, recommends Adobe Lightroom and Google’s Snapseed for Android or iOS. Adobe Photoshop Express also includes a collection of filters, themes and borders for your photos. (Adobe’s apps are free with in-app purchases, and Snapseed is free.)

We are having trouble retrieving the article content.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.

Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.

Thank you for your patience while we verify access.

Already a subscriber? Log in.

Want all of The Times? Subscribe.

Back to top button