How to Make Your Smartphone’s Digital Photos Look Old

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Like the allure of vinyl records, classic video games, and even the early Internet, the allure of 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. The allure of “vintage” photography extends beyond nostalgia and Instagram filters, judging by the number of apps designed to emulate the film, 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, going 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 sensibilities of a different time 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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