How to Make Digital Smartphone Photos Look Old

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Like the allure of vinyl records, classic video games, and even the early Internet, the fascination with old photographic standards like point-and-shoot cameras and 35-millimeter film endures, even among people too young to remember when that equipment was cutting-edge art. The allure of “vintage” photography goes beyond nostalgia and Instagram filters, judging by the huge number of apps designed to emulate the film stock, lenses, and visual quirks of pre-digital photos and films.

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

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

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