Vintage Fashion Photo Editing: Creating that old film-style edit on digital photographs

The Vintage photo still is a photo with a classic or timeless look in it. It simply means it was photographed with an old film camera and was processed manually in a digital darkroom.  The colours were harder to control because too much of processing either made the photos look too red, too dark, too faded, dusty and full of scratches, and so on.  But, with all those “errors” comes a beautiful look that reminds us of times less digital, more organic, more pure and somehow maybe more innocent.

It can be inspired from the 1800s era up to 90s era. See some examples of 80s to 90s vintage photography below:

Now compare that against the perfection and eye-popping tones and colors made possible by digital photography.  The colours are true to white light, the contrast is very crisp and sharp, the detail depending on the camera and lens is superb. But, perhaps in this digital age, we long for something old fashioned.

Many people have looked to the aesthetics of the past, embracing everything from the soft warmth of a sepia-toned print to the darkroom mishaps and light-spots that used to result from clunky analogue cameras.

Crystal clarity and crisp lighting of much of today’s photography is somewhat looking perfect, but maybe the sterile look can be a bit much at times.  Here’s a tutorial on how to strip back some of that clean look and (ironically) create old school looking photos completely on Photoshop and Lightroom.

Here’s what we created to break that perfection of a digital photo by this vintage effect editing sample:

We’ll show you the steps for doing high end retouching on this vintage fashion photo.

First we process the raw files and convert them to jpeg for further editing in Photoshop.

In Lightroom we can just copy the settings and tweaks we made from a file and paste it to the other photos from the series.

You can begin by adjusting the basic settings. You wanna make the image a less contrasty so you pull highlights down and open up some shadows and pull the blacks down to balance the tones. To give it a more of a vintage feel we can lessen the clarity and  tweak the vibrance and saturation.

With a bit of color adjustments in Hue and Saturation slider, it can help produce a vintage effect.

And also by using the curves tool you can modify it and here you get more freedom in adjusting the tones the way you want it. But here in Lightroom we’re just trying to process it into its maximum potential without actually breaking the pixels because we can still edit further in Adobe Photoshop.

Then if you feel that you have the processing you wanted you can copy and paste the settings to the other photos by synchronizing it as seen below.

We wanted richer greens so with the use of  Selective color adjustment you just click into the yellows and adjust the sliders.

And you can mask it to make it appear only in the areas you want and it doesn’t affect the rest of the image.

We want a reddish-warm effect on it so through Color Balance we can do it by pushing the sliders to red, magenta and yellow side.

We also want to make the subject stand out in the whole image so in order to achieve that you can create another color balance and adjust the color of the highlights to make it blueish, again by pushing the sliders to the blue and cyan side. And then just mask it to have it visible on our subject only.

Then we can add more adjustments to it to create good overall contrast. You can create a curves adjustment layer and make it dark. Afterwards mask the subject out so it only applies to the background.

Curves adjustment layer can also help build up the vibes and effect you want. So to achieve a vintage toning to our photo you just go to curves and pick red and move the point of shadows up and the highlights down.

Just play with it until you achieve the vintage color toning.

Now you can copy the adjustments layers you created in the previous photo and paste it here in our new image. That way the color and tone adjustments are similar to the one we did earlier. Just modify the masks per adjustment and you’re good to go.

Now it’s time to add flares to give it more effect. You can download photos you can overlay to some websites that allow free use.

Once you’re decided which photos to use drag it your image in photoshop and put it on screen blending mode.

You can warp or rotate it any way you want until you feel the it’s blending well with the image. You can still experiment with other blending modes.

See below the before and after edit photos: