We’ve all seen old color pictures from the 60s, 70s and early 80s in an album at home; the photos are faded, or weirdly and unevenly saturated, like stars in a Wes Anderson film about your childhood.
Fuzzy or oddly exposed and with an overwhelmingly warm-cast, those photos made us appear trapped in permanent sunset. For whatever reason, the color palettes represented by decaying Kodacolor prints (kind of beige, like pantyhose) read as authentic and retro. Bring on the warm fuzzies. But thanks to smartphone photography and apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic, this look is no longer just a byproduct of aging film paper and degrading chemical dyes—it’s a visual trend in photography. Nostalgia #FTW!
From lens flare and vignettes to scratches and dust, we’re showcasing images manipulated to exude the atmosphere and mood of an earlier time period; they’re not necessarily retro in content, but in color. Everything is being seen through rose-colored glasses. While the palette isn’t authentic (the past wasn’t actually overwhelmingly beige), we no longer require years of fading dyes to achieve the look. We just need to apply digital filters and employ tricks like adjusting the saturation, contrast and exposure in photo apps or photo editing software. Hues can be manipulated to favor particular color schemes.
Whether faked with apps or achieved with toy cameras, old expired film or vaseline on lenses, we’ve got a fun, filtered look that extends our visual vocabulary, especially now that we can create it with just a few clicks.