How to Make Photos Look Vintage or Retro

Various decades seem to be making a big comeback these days. From TV show reboots to new fashion collections. Vintage and retro aesthetics are also big on Instagram, with celebrities and social media influencers editing their posts as call back to yesteryears. It’s a great look to apply to your feeds, too! 

Here are some tips to get that vintage / lo-fi look for your own feed using a retro photo editor:

Here's how to make your photos look vintage using Instasize.

1. Apply retro filters.

Giving your photos (whether taken on GoPro, DLSR or smartphone) that coveted retro feel doesn’t require too many different apps or even technical know-how. Instasize has more than a few filters that can instantly transform any photo into a cool edit with a retro vibe. In fact, there are even studies that show that using filters on Instagram generates more Likes for your posts!

  • Tokyo - this filter gives any photo a bluish tint, giving photos an 80s / 90s look

  • D2 - this premium filter’s reddish hue gives photos that insta-vintage look

  • N3 - this darker filter gives photos that signature Polaroid look

You can adjust how much (or how little) these filters are applied to your photo by tapping the filter and adjusting the slider.

2. Play with grain.

One way to give your photos a distinctly vintage or retro look is to add some grain on it! On Instasize, tap the adjustments option and choose ‘Grain’. Adjust the slider to achieve the exact look you’re looking for.

Make sure to use a light touch when increasing the grain on your photo. Too little might not be noticeable, while too much could ruin the quality of your edit.

3. Adjust the settings.

If none of the pre-made filters match the aesthetics you’re going for, you can always edit the settings of your photos manually. This will give you more creative freedom on your edits, and end up with something unique!

Here are some of the settings you should adjust to achieve a vintage or retro effect:

  • Saturation: this increases or decreases how vibrant colors are in your photo. Desaturating your photo will help bring out the colors of filters as well as other edits you’re applying to achieve that vintage style.

  • Highlight: this increases or decreases the bright spots on your photograph.

  • Contrast: reducing contrast will help you get that lo-fi look.

  • Warmth: adjusting warmth will give your photo a warmer or cooler feel to it. Photos that are ‘warmer’ suits the vintage aesthetic well.

  • Vignette: this darkens image corners for a more dramatic effect.

  • Grain or Noise: this effect will drastically give any photo the vintage feel as it copies effects from film cameras popular in previous decades.

Pro Tip: You don’t have to manually start over with all of these steps each and every time you have to adjust your image settings. There are ways or tips to speed up and streamline your process so it’s best to try them all and figure out which ones will suit your workflow the most. 

Don’t be afraid to play around with the settings of your photo. Manually adjusting and editing your photos will help you get the same look every time, even if your photos are different or have vastly different compositions.

It’s fun to make photos look vintage for Instagram posts, and best of all, it’s very easy! It’s also a versatile style you can apply to nearly any kind of photo. Check out more vintage photoshop actions at Fix The Photo. 

Pro Tip: If you're already going retro or vintage on your Instagram, create a website with the same style so that your branding is cohesive. There are lots of web design companies, but one we like is MotoCMS -- they have some cool retro-style website templates you can choose from. 

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