How to Make Your Photos Look Vintage in Lightroom

A frequently asked question in the editing world is ‘how do I apply a vintage effect to my photos?’. There is a simple technique in Adobe Lightroom that takes about 10 seconds that not many know about. Simply adjusting the tone curve can create that vintage effect you have spent hours trying to perfect.

So here’s how:

  1. Navigate to the tone curve while in develop mode in Adobe Lightroom.
  2. Click the bottom right button ‘Click to edit point curve’. This will allow you to use your mouse pointer to select certain parts of the grid to apply an adjustable point on the grid.
  3. Click in the very middle of the grid as your starting point but don’t adjust anything yet.
  4. Select your second and third grid points diagonally bottom down and diagonally top right respectively.
  5. There should already be check points in the far bottom left of the grid (furthest left point of the tone curve), and in the far top right of the grid (furthest right point of the tone curve).
  6. Now, use your mouse pointer to click and drag the furthest bottom left point up the left hand wall of the grid to near the top of the first square. This will have applied a fade effect to your photo, which is also a great effect on its own.
  7. Use your mouse pointer to click and drag the furthest top right point down the right hand wall of the grid to near the bottom of that first top square.
  8. The further you go down, the harsher the vintage effect becomes. Apply it to the point of how you’d like your style to be. Some like a subtle effect, and some like to go all the way down so that the furthest top right hand check point is at a complete 90-degree angle.

Here’s a screenshot of what your tone curve should look like.


So where would one use this effect? Well, if you’re like us and really like this effect, you’ll use it as often as possible. Vintage effects can commonly be found popular in engagement or wedding photos as the effect of almost resembling a polaroid picture is both amusing and interesting to people. The subconscious ‘lasting’ feeling of the photo resonates in those tying the knot for a ‘lasting’ marriage.

It is also popular among rural areas, or engagements/weddings where cars are involved, especially if the car is a classic old sports car!



Leave Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *