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Creating a vintage photo effect in Lightroom is just a few clicks away…

Many photographers grew up looking at the beautiful vintage photos of their parents and grandparents. The faded black and white or sepia-toned photos that tell of a time long ago and far away – there is something special about them even now! Vintage wedding photo albums hold so many memories and a sense of nostalgia, they have a certain appeal- especially for those to have old souls. To give the same sense of elegance and beauty a vintage photo holds, wedding photographers these days opt for a vintage photo effect in Lightroom. It is a style that many couples love and may even request.

Wedding Photographers Love Creating Vintage Photo Effects in Lightroom

An open window at The Belvedere featuring a silhouette of a couple kissing

Modern digital cameras have picture control systems that offer monochromatic settings to apply to photos, but many wedding photographers opt to create a vintage photo effect in Lightroom instead.
It’s simple and easy to get a vintage effect in photos using Lightroom! Start with launching Lightroom on your computer and transferring your wedding photos to the system. Now

1. Open Photo in Lightroom’s Develop Module

Begin by selecting the image you want to use from your Lightroom catalog. Then, make sure you’re in the Develop module by selecting it from the Module Picker in the upper right of the screen. Open the Develop module in Lightroom.

Once you’ve opened the image, if you see any unwanted dust particles in your image, you can remove them. Don’t know how? Read— REMOVE DUST IN LIGHTROOM.

2. Go to the HSL / Color / B&W Panel

Create a Vintage Photo Effect in Lightroom

To get the Vintage Photo Effect, the first thing you should do is convert the color image to black and white. In the panel column along the right, open the HSL / Color / B&W panel by clicking on the arrow to the right of the panel.

3. Create a Custom Black and White Version

Click on B&W in the panel’s tab to switch to the Black and White conversion options. Your image will instantly switch from color to black and white.

To create a custom black and white version of your image, drag the individual color sliders left or right. Dragging a slider to the left will darken any areas in the black and white version that originally contained the slider’s color. Taking it to the right will lighten those areas. For example, if you drag the Red slider to the right, it will lighten any areas that originally contained red. Dragging the Green slider to the left will darken any areas that contained green, and so on.

If you drag a slider and nothing happens, it’s because no part of your image contained that specific color. Every image will be different, so keep an eye on your image as you drag each slider to judge the results.

4. Use a Sepia Tone to the Image to Bring out the Vintage Photo Effect

Create a Vintage Photo Effect in Lightroom

Next, add a sepia tone to the wedding image. You can do so by opening the Split Toning panel in Lightroom. In Lightroom 10 CC this panel is now called Color Grading.

The Split Toning panel is divided into a Highlights section at the top and a shadow section at the bottom. It allows you to set different colors for the lightest and darkest areas of the image. In the Highlights section, set the Hue to 40 for a nice orange-yellow. You won’t actually see the color until you increase the saturation. Set the Saturation value to 20.

Then in the Shadows section, use a slightly different Hue value of 45 to add some variety. Now increase the Saturation value to 50 for a more intense effect in the shadows.

In Lightroom 10 CC the same steps above can be done in the panel called Color Grading. The Color Grading panel is split into Midtones, Highlights and Shadows. You can adjust the strength of each of these with the sliders under the colored wheels. You can adjust the color of the image by selecting a spot on the wheel. This may take some adjusting but try a few to see what looks best!

5. Add Grain to the Image

Now, add some grain and a vignette to the image. You can do so by opening the Effects panel.

The Effects panel contains three main effects that we can apply to the image. There’s Post-Crop Vignetting at the top, Grain in the middle, and a new Dehaze effect that was recently added to Lightroom.

With the help of these three sliders in the Grain section, you can adjust the amount, size, and roughness of the grain. For example: set the Amount value to 50, and then set both the Size and Roughness values to 60. You can also experiment with the sliders on your own to find settings that work best for your wedding image.

6. Bring in Some Vignette

Create a Vintage Photo Effect in Lightroom

Let’s add a vignette using the Post-Crop Vignetting section of the Effects panel. The main control here is the Amount slider. If you drag the Amount slider to the left, you’ll darken the corners of the image. Normally, that’s the result you’d want. But for the vintage photo effect, you’d actually want the opposite. You would need to lighten the corners as if they faded over time. You can do that by dragging the Amount slider to the right. You can increase the Amount value all the way to +80. You can leave the other sliders at their default settings.

7. Lower the Overall Contrast to get Your Final Vintage Photo Effect

Next, you need to use a few sliders in the Basic panel to lower the overall contrast of the image so it looks even more like it has faded over time. First, to tone down the highlights, drag the Highlights slider to the left. The further you drag, the more you’ll darken the brightest parts of the image. You can lower your Highlights value all the way down to -70. Then, to brighten the darkest areas, drag the Shadows slider to the right. You can increase your Shadow value to +80.

Finally, to reduce the contrast in the mid-tones, drag the Clarity slider to the left. The further you drag, the more you’ll soften and blur the details in the image. Don’t drag too far or you’ll lose too much detail.

After lowering the overall contrast with the Basic panel, your final ‘vintage photo effect’ will be ready.

PROTIP: If you want to see a before and after comparison of your effect, press the Backslash ( \ ) key on your keyboard. Press it once to see a “Before” view of the image, and then press it again to see the “After” view.

To learn more Lightroom tricks, read— TOP 15 LIGHTROOM TIPS FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS.

Keep Learning More Lightroom Tricks to Attract More Clients

We hope our tips help you create gorgeous wedding images with an amazing vintage photo effect.

For some more fun Lightroom editing tips, you can take a look at— How to Make Your Photos Look Like Film in Lightroom. Keep trying and impressing your past, present, and potential clients.

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