Olga Levien
New Zealand Artist | Mentor | Mum

Olga Levien wedding | documentary family photographers Blog

Personal projects and documentary-lifestyle photographs taken by Olga Levien photography artist - wedding and family photographer in Auckland, New Zealand and international.

Tutorial: How to bring retro vibe in images {Education for photographers by Auckland family-wedding photographer}

Did you ever look at some images with thoughts it remind you of something, bring warm feeling and remind of old times, have some retro vibes, bring back memories of childhood. These photos just speak to you and make you feel something. 

We all so different with our tastes and preferences, but timeless photos generally speak to most of us.

I tend to love timeless atmosphere in photographs and retro vibe.

Let’s see what elements help to bring this nostalgia feeling:

1.  Timeless outfit. Choice of clothes can be very important (I tend to dress my kids in neutral colors clothes without big logos or stripes , firstly to not take attention from emotion and to archive certain look). Some photographers also using old type fashionable clothes, brands that looks exactly like the ones from previous centuries

2. Location. The place, backdrop in the photograph plays a significant role. Your subject shot in industrial location most likely not looks too timeless unless you find a spot with solid backdrop without any distractions and can create amazing portraits . (Some clean lines on the street and proper outfit as in previous photo still can bring 50-60th vibe). Opposite to previous scenario, subject in natural location or in old style set up can bring pictures to the level that viewer can’t guess when this picture been taken, what century.

3. Story. What story behind your image? Can you imagine this happening long time ago? This picture can bring the feeling of nostalgia.

4. Details. Objects in the photo  can be a great indication of time and bring retro vibe with some memories.  

5. Emotion. I noticed images with quiet emotion most likely to transfer me in time. I stronger connect to feel of solitude and some kind of sad emotion. I guess nostalgia feeling have similar vibe. 

6. Editing. Black and white.

This is one of the lasts but not least point. Most photos that come to us from the past are black and white (that’s where photography started - in monochrome). We used to have our memories in black and white, without any color. That’s why transferring your images in black and white not only helps to delete color distractions, convey emotion, showcase the light and contrast, but also building the bridge between centuries allowing the viewer to be transferred back in time (to something that mean something to him, that comes from the childhood)

7. Editing. Color. You can create this vibe not only with BW conversion, but also with your editing color choice.

Look back at art and paintings. You may noticed how different are colors in old paintings (look at work of  Renessance artists, or other artists). You may notice their use of certain colors and tones. 

You can bring retro vibe in images by using muted tones (put Saturation down in LR or PS), use matte effect (by lifting corner of your tone curve) or by using certain colors that can remind you about different era (warm chocolate tones, certain tone of blue etc). Watch modern movies about events take place in last centuries, and you will notice what colors editors used to create this specific atmosphere to bring retro feel.

8. Using creative techniques, blur (Lensbaby, freelensing, prism, etc) or double exposure - we can’t clear see the subject or part of it. This techniques aim to create this feeling of something that impossible to catch , you can’t reach, touch the subject.  This is so close to the effect of our blury memories about our past (we can’t remember exactly what happened at certain days a few years ago. Oh well, I even can’t remember clear what I been doing last Monday 😂)

I hope these quick tips helps you to understand the main ways to bring retro vibe, timeless feel and nostalgia in your images and also give you a better understanding why you may be drawn so much to some type of images . 

Enjoy a few recent images, highlights of my everyday moments that I felt I need to transfer in black and white to bring feel that I love!