How to Make a Digital Photo Look Vintage

January 01

9 min. to read

Vintage look has its special magic - no wonder that people are trying to imitate vintage "look".

How to Make a Digital Photo Look Vintage Image1

Digital photography has changed the way we take photos. It’s easy to pull out a camera from your pocket, frame your shot on the bright screen, turn some dials to change your settings, and press a button to take the photo. This same process would have taken much longer before digital photography came around, and the time required to actually develop the image as a print was even longer.

Digital cameras are also able to resolve much more detail and reproduce colors much more accurately than old film cameras could, but we still see many people trying to give a vintage look to their photos. Maybe it’s because they wish to stand out from the sea of detailed, bright and vivid photos on the internet, or maybe they just prefer the aesthetic of film photography but don’t want to give up the ease of digital photography.

Whatever the reason, there are multiple things you can do to make a photo look old. But first, let’s understand what we mean by a vintage look.

How to Make a Digital Photo Look Vintage Image2

Some characteristics of a vintage look

Vintage photographs, mainly due to the limitations of cameras at the time, had certain imperfections which people try to replicate these days. Some characteristics of older photos are:

  • Film grain

  • Most old photos had visible grain in them because of the uneven size of halide crystals in the photo films and plates. This is one of the most common characteristics that make photos look old.

  • Low contrast

  • Older camera sensors weren’t able to capture the amount of detail or color that today’s cameras are capable of, so photos usually has less contrast and were softer.

  • Yellow tint

  • Since film photography was printed on paper as opposed to being stored digitally on computers, photos would appear to yellow over time due to the quality of the paper. This yellowish tint has become a common way to induce a feeling of nostalgia in photography.

  • Vignetting

  • Light falloff around the lens was the reason for the darker corners in photos that we know as vignetting.

Other than these, elements like dust spots, scratches, and other types of damage are also associated with older photos. Now that you’re familiar with these common characteristics of vintage photos, let’s take a look at how to make photos look vintage in the modern age.

How to Make a Digital Photo Look Vintage Image3

How to make photos look vintage

Essentially, all you need to do to achieve a vintage look is to incorporate the above-mentioned characteristics into your photos. You can do this very simply with something like Luminar’s photo filters if you’re in a hurry, but we’ll discuss some other methods as well in a little more detail.

Luminar logo photo effects app Luminar 3

Luminar 3 - Time Does Matter
The fastest way to make your photos stand out Complex photo editing made easy with
AI powered tools

  • Accent AI 2.0
  • AI Sky Enhancer
  • More than 70 Instant Looks
  • Quickly erase unwanted objects
  • Denoise
  • Sharpening
  • And - More

There are two kinds of methods you can use to achieve your desired effects: automatic or manual.

1. Get the retro look automatically

One of the best things about digital photography today is how easy it is to automatically process your images the way you want. There are many different photo editing software that provide excellent filters and presets to help you achieve that vintage look you want.

  • Photoshop Actions: When using Photoshop, you can use Actions that act as presets to give your photos a certain kind of look. All you have to do is choose one (Vintage Photo and SweetPea Country Vintage Photoshop Action are pretty good) and get started.
  • How to Make a Digital Photo Look Vintage Image4
  • Luminar Filters: Luminar, other than being a great overall photo editor, excels in its collection of presets. There are many things you can do with these, from adding a vignette effect to adding grain. These filters are simple to apply and provide you with deeper controls if you want to manually tweak the look.

2. Get more control with manual methods

If you want to control every aspect of your photo while making it look retro, you should really go about the process manually.

  • With Adobe Camera Raw: In Photoshop, you can use Adobe Camera Raw to make your photos appear as though they were taken with an older camera. This link will take you to eleven easy-to-follow steps to do just that. It’s also important to note that this particular process is non-destructive and will not cause your original image to lose its quality.
  • With Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop: If you have both Lightroom and Photoshop on your system and want to achieve a less pronounced retro effect, then this tutorial is the one you should follow. It starts with making curve and color adjustments in Lightroom and then adds effects like vignetting in Photoshop.
  • Directly with Photoshop: Photoshop’s tools and controls are more than enough to let you create vintage images without any other software. This process will take about 20 minutes of your time and will lead to a photo that looks like it was taken somewhere in the 1950’s.

These are just some of the ways in which you can change the way your photos look, either automatically or manually. Each of the processes mentioned here differs in a few ways. Some take less time and create more basic results while others make more convincing photos but require more time. Whichever method you choose, you now know how to make a photo look vintage in multiple ways and can start polishing your editing skills right away.

A final word of advice: If you truly want to create convincing results, do go with manual editing. We realize that it may be difficult to start manually adjusting everything in your photos though, which is why Luminar might just be the best of both worlds. With presets specifically created to give a vintage feel to photos alongside the ability to manually adjust different aspects of these presets, Luminar has something both for new and seasoned photo editors.

Luminar logo photo effects app Luminar 3

Luminar 3 - Time Does Matter
The fastest way to make your photos stand out Complex photo editing made easy with
AI powered tools

  • Accent AI 2.0
  • AI Sky Enhancer
  • More than 70 Instant Looks
  • Quickly erase unwanted objects
  • Denoise
  • Sharpening
  • And - More

Start using Luminar 3

Use Aurora HDR for free for 14 days.

Sent successfully!

Please check your inbox.
We've sent you a copy via email.

Sorry

Looks like you're subscribed already

Sorry

This is sad. Looks like you’ve earlier unsubscribed from Skylum emails. Please resubscribe here.

Thank you for downloading
Aurora HDR

Preparing your download...

Did your download not start?
Dont worry, just click here to try again.

Oops! Something went wrong. Don't worry, just click here to try again.

Step 1

Step 1 Find & Open
Aurora HDR Installer

Step 2

Step 2 Follow the instructions
to install Aurora HDR

Step 3

Step 3 Enjoy new photo
editing experience

Luminar 3

Use Luminar 3 for free for 7 days.

Editor Software Features review

Sent successfully!

Please check your inbox.
We've sent you a copy via email.

Software version review attention

Sorry

Looks like you're subscribed already

Photo editor Software error

Error

This is sad. Looks like you’ve earlier unsubscribed from Skylum emails. Please resubscribe here.

Luminar 3

Use Luminar 3 for free for 7 days.

Editor Software Features review

Sent successfully!

Please check your inbox.
We've sent you a copy via email.

Software version review attention

Sorry

Looks like you're subscribed already

Photo editor Software error

Error

This is sad. Looks like you’ve earlier unsubscribed from Skylum emails. Please resubscribe here.

Thank you for downloading
Luminar 3

Preparing your download...

Did your download not start?
Dont worry, just click here to try again.

Oops! Something went wrong. Don't worry, just click here to try again.

Step 1

Run the
Luminar 3 installer
Click the downloaded file at the
bottom left corner of your screen

Step 2

Step 2 Follow the instructions
to install Luminar

Step 3

Step 3 Enjoy new photo
editing experience

Thank you for downloading
Luminar 3

Preparing your download...

Did your download not start?
Dont worry, just click here to try again.

Oops! Something went wrong. Don't worry, just click here to try again.

Step 1

Run the
Luminar 3 installer
Click the downloaded file at the
bottom left corner of your screen

Step 2

Step 2 Follow the instructions
to install Luminar

Step 3

Step 3 Enjoy new photo
editing experience

Thank you for downloading
Luminar 3

Preparing your download...

Did your download not start?
Dont worry, just click here to try again.

Oops! Something went wrong. Don't worry, just click here to try again.

Step 1

Run the
Luminar 3 installer
Click the downloaded file at the
bottom left corner of your screen

Step 2

Step 2 Follow the instructions
to install Luminar

Step 3

Step 3 Enjoy new photo
editing experience

Thank you for downloading
Luminar 3

Preparing your download...

Did your download not start?
Dont worry, just click here to try again.

Oops! Something went wrong. Don't worry, just click here to try again.

Step 1

Run the
Luminar 3 installer
Click the downloaded file at the
bottom left corner of your screen

Step 2

Step 2 Follow the instructions
to install Luminar

Step 3

Step 3 Enjoy new photo
editing experience

Luminar Flex

Use Luminar Flex for free for 30 days.

Editor Software Features review

Success

Please check your inbox.
We've sent you a copy via email.

Software version review attention

Sorry

Looks like you're subscribed already

Photo editor Software error

Error

This is sad. Looks like you’ve earlier unsubscribed from Skylum emails. Please resubscribe here.

Thank you for downloading Luminar Flex

Did your download not start?
Dont worry, just click here to try again.

Step 1

Step 1 Find & Open
Luminar Flex Installer

Step 2

Step 2 Follow the instructions
to install Luminar Flex

Step 3

Step 3 Enjoy new photo
editing experience

AirMagic

Use AirMagic for free for 30 days.

Editor Software Features review

Sent successfully!

Please check your inbox.
We've sent you a copy via email.

Software version review attention

Sorry

Looks like you're subscribed already

Photo editor Software error

Error

This is sad. Looks like you’ve earlier unsubscribed from Skylum emails. Please resubscribe here.

Thank you for downloading AirMagic

Preparing your download...

Did your download not start?
Dont worry, just click here to try again.

Oops! Something went wrong. Don't worry, just click here to try again.

Did your download not start?
Dont worry, just click here to try again.

Step 1

Step 1 Find & Open
AirMagic Installer

Step 2

Step 2 Follow the instructions
to install AirMagic

Step 3

Step 3 Launch AirMagic
and start enhancing your images.