How to Make Photos Look Vintage in 3 Easy Steps

Any regular image taken with an iPhone, DSLR, or action camera can be transformed in a few seconds to a moody shot with vintage and retro aesthetics. 

Many Instagram influencers and content creators use a vintage Lightroom presets on their feed to give a different tone and mystery to their images as if they were taken with an old film camera.

There are two different ways to change the look of an image. You either manually edit a photo with an app like Adobe Lightroom, or use Lightroom Presets like our Hashtag Presets.


How to make photos look vintage?

An easy way to create a vintage look is to use presets. We will walk you through how you can do it in three easy steps!

Apply Hashtag Presets – Beautiful Lightroom Presets

Vintage Lightroom presets add a touch of nostalgia to your images. You don’t need to have any photo editing skills to use them. You can download them directly from our website and install them on your smartphone or personal computer. 

We have three types of presets available to convert your photos to a vintage look

Vintage Presets

These presets have a warm brown color palette. This color palette matches green, earthy orange, timber, blues, white and black colors to create a classic feel. This Vintage Preset Package is available to download here.

1985 Lightroom Presets

The color palette 1985 has warm tones with pops of color that strike harmony. This look feels more cinematic and contrasty. You can download the 1985 Lightroom Presets here.

19-Best Selling Lightroom Presets

In this package, you can find the two previous Vintage Presets and some extra ones like OFF THE GRID, GOLDEN HOUR, LIFESTYLE BLOGGER, PARADISE, ISLAND, MUTED TONES, MOODY GLOW, ALMOND, and others. You can download this Best-Selling LR Preset Package here.

Please read our detailed guidelines for more information on installing any Lightroom Preset on your mobile or desktop device.

Introduce Grain Into Your Photos

Grain creates a technical imperfection in photography and emphasizes what an image represents in its colors and tonality. It’s another way on how to make photos look vintage.

Every new camera is designed to take pin-sharp images. The more megapixels and resolution an image has, the better it shows on our screens. 

This digital look often becomes unreal. The vibrant and oversaturated colors create a fake look. However, Grain makes an image feel less digital; it changes the aesthetics and adds more character.

  1. You can add Grain in numerous ways. In Adobe Lightroom Mobile App, you can head over to EFFECTS and find the GRAIN slider, which contains two extra sliders; SIZE and ROUGHNESS. 
  2. When you turn the slider right or left, you can increase the Grain in your image from 0 to 100. Adjust the amount of Grain according to your liking and then select the SIZE. 
  3. Size represents how big the individual Grain is. Move the slider to about 50 and select ROUGHNESS.

Roughness represents the texture and how gritty the image gets. Move the slider to around 70-80. 

Note: We don’t want to add too much Grain to distract from the actual picture. Also, it’s different when you add Grain on color and black and white images. 

Black and white photos take a lot more Grain than color images can. Just play around, make it your own and figure out what works best for you and the style you want to portray.

Pro Tip: You can introduce Grain with an in-camera technique. It’s called “Film Grit,” and it’s a technique where you underexpose an image by one or two stops in-camera, and then you bring up the exposure in post. 

This way, you create a “gritty texture” in your images. Moreover, the amount of Grain will be the result of the camera you use and the ISO. The higher the ISO, the more Grain will be introduced in your photos.

Last Resort: Adjust Settings Manually

It’s up to you to decide when to stop editing your photo. You might be happy with just using a vintage preset or adding grain but if you want to get more creative, start experimenting with other sliders.

Temp: Introduce warmer or cooler tones to your image.

Tint: Make your image look more purple or greenish.

Exposure: Make your photo brighter or darker.

Contrast: By moving the slider to the left, you can create a more artistic low contrast look in your photos. Moving it to the right, you add more punch to them.

Highlights: If you want to reveal the details in parts of your image, you can decrease the slider to an amount it doesn’t affect the colors in your photo. Again, you can experiment on your own and decide where you want it.

Shadows: This slider reveals the shadows in your image. Be careful when you are increasing the volume of this slider because it can introduce unnecessary Grain, which doesn’t look good.

Whites: Move this slider if you want to increase the “medium part” of brightness in your image.

Blacks: By moving this slider to the left, you create more contrast. Similarly, you have to increase the whites for a balanced result.

Texture: Decide if you want to add more texture to your image, especially if you want to reveal specific details.

Clarity: This slider brings up more details. It is best to keep it less than 20.

Dehaze: Move this slider on the right to remove the haze from a photo.

Vibrance: Lightroom uses different algorithms to adjust colors. Vibrance is used to raise all the colors in a palette except the reds and oranges.

Saturation: With saturation, you raise the vibrancy of all the colors in a palette. 

Final Thoughts On Getting That Vintage Look On Your Photos

Get creative! Use Vintage Lightroom Presets, add Grain or adjust manually the sliders and find the look you want. The presets are easy to install, and since you do it once, you will learn the process and transform the rest of your images faster.

Did you like our short tutorial? Share the knowledge with your friends and colleagues.