Four Fun and Easy Ways to Make Your Photos Look Vintage

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

Recently we asked friends of our Tumblr page what they’d most like to see covered in our next tutorial.

The votes are in. The absentee ballots have been counted. The results are clear:

You want to learn how to make your photos look vintage!

So, we got together to brainstorm and do research. We learned new things, we experimented, and now we’re sharing what we found!

Four Easy Ways to Make Your Photos Look Vintage

p.s. Did you know we’re on Twitter? We are! You can follow us with just one click.

1: Doctor Up the Shots You’ve Already Got.

beforeDon’t have Photoshop? Don’t worry!

We found some awesome places online to help you convert your digital snaps into old-style vintage masterpieces super fast and without expensive photo-editing software!

  • Wanokato has a fantastic online tool for making your digital photos look vintage. Upload, click a button, and seconds later you’ve got an image that looks like it was pulled out of a hundred year old photo album!
    *Note: The site features a public album with photos that are sometimes NSFW.

Altered with Rollip

  • Try, a simple web application where you can apply over 40 different filters (including specific vintage ones!) to your photos. We used “effect #4” here.

2: Reuse and Diffuse.

Old photos are known for looking fuzzy, oddly exposed, scratchy, vignetted, and sometimes even dirty.

Good news is: you can get this effect with your current camera, whether it’s digital, analog, HD, or even part of a Barbie Doll.

With a cell phone camera (or one you’re not worried about damaging) you can try putting Vaseline directly on the edges of your lens to give your photos an out of focus vignette just like old film cameras.

If you’ve got nice equipment, you should probably put your grease of choice on a clear lens filter that you aren’t worried about damaging.

A quick search for “Vaseline Filter” brings up some rad photos flickr users have already made. (Like the stunning photo set “Mighty Lubricant” by Flickr member James Blan.) Why not try your own experiments and upload them to our flickr group?

You might also want to try:

  • Stretching a nylon stocking over your lens for images that look like they’re from old time toy cameras. (Try different colors, too!)
  • Experimenting with clear paper, wax paper, or anything else slightly transparent to shoot through.
  • Combining our Color filters with the grease/Vaseline method for photos with beautiful colors and awe-inspiring focus tricks!

3: Out With the new, In With the Old!

old cameras shot on old filmBack in the day, people had to walk uphill (both ways) in the snow for 4 miles just to take a photograph.

Now we’ve got digital SLRs, cell phone cameras that shoot HD video, and we can share any picture instantly with the rest of the world.

Been there, vintage-ized that? Then it’s time to break out the original shooters: expired film and old cameras!

ice skating shot on expired film

  • Resurrect that old 35mm camera that’s been collecting dust in your attic. The dust might even add to the look you’re craving!
  • Try out some expired film! The older the better. The colors usually come out strange or faded, making them look like old vintage prints as soon as they’re developed! (This example was shot with color film several years past it’s expiration date.)
  • If you have a camera that takes Polaroid film, try shooting some Impossible Project Silver Shade Film. With the perfect old-style sepia color, this film also reminds us of beautiful photographs made at the turn of the 19th century.

4: Find A Photobooth!

Love nostalgia as much as we do, but don’t have access to working vintage cameras or film? No problem!

Treat yourself to one of the last remaining endangered species of photography: The analog photobooth.

Nothing beats sitting behind the curtain, staring straight into a camera for it’s un-timed flashes, and waiting 5 minutes outside the booth to retrieve your photo strip while it develops.

Luckily, the folks at have been hard at work making analog machines easier to find around the world!

Check out their Photobooth Locator to find a working booth near you, and don’t forget to bring your top hat and monocle!

Tips & Ideas to Take it Further:

  • You can assemble your own 35mm Pinhole Camera for old style shots on film you can get developed at any local lab!
  • Got an old camera but no film for it? Try our method of shooting through the lens of the old camera!
  • If you have an iPhone, check out our Ultimate Hipstamatic Guide. With over 336 different film, lens, and flash filter combinations, you could doctor your digital images all day long!

Inspirational links to check out before you shoot:

  • The Flickr Commons: a giant collection of photography archives, made available to the public by Flickr, The Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and countless other organizations that simply want you to have free access to photo history.
  • Browse the official Flickr group for PX Silver Shade film to see great examples from other shooters – find what works for you and try it out!
  • Another great flickr group to watch: Expired Film. With over 96,000 photos, you’ll never get bored checking out all the wonderful things expired film can do.

Double-exposures: double the snaps, twice the fun!
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