Retro Photography: A New Emerging Style in Modern Photography

Retro photography is the new emerging trend in photography and nostalgia for a glorious past. Retro style (also called vintage) has appeared in photographs relatively recently. The word “retro” has been used since 1972 to describe new things that reflect past traits. Concerning photography, people started talking about retro photography style almost immediately after the spread of digital photography.

The term retro is abstract; it includes everything from the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. Artistic images created by contemporary artists and photographers in retro style do not copy the fashion and pictures of that time but are stylized. Retro photography allows you to see the charm and beauty of a bygone era, dissolved in the depths of past centuries.

Retro Photography

Initially, this direction was attributed to photographs imitating the 19th or first half of the 20th century. But the time frame shifts as modern life changes and particular everyday objects disappear from daily life. Nowadays, many photographers take retro photographs in the style of the 1980s and even the 1990s.

Retro-style photographs are modern stylizations imitating photographs of the 19th or 20th century, simulating fashion, everyday life, and shooting technologies of the past. Photos in a romantic retro style have a strong emotional effect on the viewer as if transferring it to the past and helping to remember the events of the past decades. Many contemporary photographers are turning to retro photography to create antique stylized works.

Methods of Retro Photography: How to Photograph is Retro Style?

This genre of photography is quite laborious: it requires both preliminary preparation and serious post-processing of images. First, the photographer must find the pieces of antiquity that he will capture in the picture – clothing for a portrait, dishes for still life, or an old building for a city ​​street landscape. After shooting, you need to age the photo by working on the colors, contrast, and brightness.

How to Photograph is Retro Style?

For portraits, it is essential to recreate the fashion of the chosen period. To do this, you can watch old magazines, movies, or grandmother’s outfits that have survived from her youth. In addition to clothes, we must not forget about hairstyle, makeup, and accessories. Even gestures and posture can mentally refer us to a particular decade. Cigars, strings of pearls, Coco Chanel, introduced fashion, disk telephones, vinyl records, typewriters, and other recognizable antiques look great in the frame. It is essential not to forget about the surroundings: a modern plastic window will nullify romance.

Makeup and Styling for Retro Photography

Feature of retro makeup is the maximum accent on the eyes, which look large and expressive against the background of pale skin, set off by a bright blush. The makeup in a retro style is complemented by thin eyebrows and small, beautifully outlined lips with a bow, making the image look like a doll. To make the skin pale, apply a light foundation. A peach or reddish blush is applied to the cheekbones.

Makeup and Styling for Retro Photography

The hardest part about retro makeup is the eyes, which have to be big and expressive. The eyelids are drawn with a black pencil; on the upper eyelid, the emphasis is on the outer corner, an arrow is made. Then, over the pencil, shadows are applied to the very bridge of the nose and shaded. After that, the drawing is corrected with a pencil. The main emphasis is on the eyelashes – with the help of mascara, they become long and fluffy.

Retro hairstyles are soft wavy curls laid in a hairstyle with a side or straight parting. Wave sizes can be different, and hair length – retro hairstyles are done on short and long hair. The abundance of curls framing the face makes it flirty and endlessly seductive.

Makeup and Styling for Retro Photography

Correct makeup and styling are the main elements of a portrait in a retro style; then, you can experiment with emotions. It takes enough energy, time, and effort to create an image, but this makes sense and the same zest, distinguishing the stock photo from the artistic. Such photographs are a vivid expression of style and can be equated with a work of art. Images, created in retro style, carry a particular mystery and sadness for the irrevocably gone years. They can become part of your interior, decorating and highlighting its style.

Choosing A Place and Props

You can make a photoshoot in a retro-style both in a thematically equipped studio and outdoors in ancient buildings. A theater, an embankment, a railway station, a restaurant is perfect. The photo will harmoniously look like retro cars and antique furniture. From the props, you can take: an old suitcase, a vintage telephone, cigars, playing cards, a cane, posters of that time.

Choosing A Place and Props for Retro Photography

For a photoshoot in a retro style, you can create a fascinating story, come up with intriguing stories. It is essential to show true feelings and emotions so that the photos are beautiful and touching, memorable, and unique.

Post Photo Processing

The easiest way to photograph a retro look is to make it black and white, and photographers often use this technique. However, black and white photos themselves do not always belong to the retro style – the depicted objects are of great importance. Color is also used in retro photography, but it takes some serious work. Halftones must be removed, and the shades must be muted – as if the picture was taken with an old film camera and then lay in an album for many years.

Post Photo Processing

Here are a few more techniques that expert photographers use when working on retro-style photographs:

Imitation of Defects in An Old Photo. This can include graininess, yellowing, fading, or even cracks in the photo paper.

Blurring. Such clarity, which is obtained in modern photographs, has not existed before. The lenses conveyed less detail. To achieve this effect, it is enough to focus the camera on something close to the center object.

Stylized Frame. In the old days, photographic images were often bordered by a not very even black or white frame, which is often used today.

Retro photos, like vintage ones, feel more soulful and personal than modern ones. They are often chosen as art objects for the interior. Photo sessions in this style are in demand at weddings, family events, and corporate parties.

Some Cool Retro Photography Ideas

Retro-style photo sessions are most popular today. This is not surprising because the exciting era of the 20th century still excites the imagination with its elegance, sophistication, standards of beauty, and luxury. Indeed every girl dream of presenting herself in the image of a sophisticated lady of the 20s or 50s.

So, retro is an abstract concept that combines various directions of the 20th century, from the 20s to the 80s. Such a broad period allows you to choose the most suitable epoch in character. A retro photoshoot is an excellent idea for those who love musicals, jazz, legendary actors, and actresses, as well as the unusual and adventurous spirit of the time.

Some Cool Retro Photography Ideas
Retro Photography Ideas

The highlight of the photographs is the play with light and shadows, which allows you to convey the minor details. Black and white and sepia images are especially favored because they retain a stunning vintage vibe.

To create a luxurious image for a retro-style photoshoot, you need to think over and recreate the style as much as possible, choose the wardrobe and attributes for shooting correctly. It is equally important to feel the era’s atmosphere and convey it as much as possible, using facial expressions, postures, and demeanor.

The 20s (Coco) Style Retro Photography.

One of the favorite images of modern girls is mysterious and filled with a unique energy. The ideal of the 20s is a slender brunette with short-cropped wavy hair in a slightly tight dress with a low waist and a revealing neckline on the back.

The 20s (Coco) Style Retro Photography

For many, the 20s are associated with the famous Coco Chanel, who turned the time’s fashion. As a wardrobe for a retro-style photo shoot, you can use a men’s trouser suit, a white shirt, a hat with a veil, a pencil skirt, etc. Props can be a fan, a string of pearls, a fluffy boa, a mouthpiece, a cloche hat, and dark lipstick.

The 40s (Hipster) Style Retro Photography.

This direction appeared in the US in the 40s, when, contrary to generally accepted standards, young people tried to stand out from the gray crowd. To do this, they dressed in everything bright and catchy, listened to forbidden music, and came off to the fullest.

The 40s (Hipster) Style Retro Photography

A bright and colorful wardrobe, catchy accessories, unusual hairstyles, as well as open and accessible poses will allow you to recreate the unique atmosphere. There can be many ideas for a photo shoot; you can shoot on the street, on the dance floor, near colorful buildings, etc. Vivid images and emotions will allow you to maximize the incendiary mood of the dandy era.

The 50s (Blonde) Style Retro Photography.

The ideal of the 50s is radically different from the image of the 20s. The beauty model is a blonde with scarlet lips, big eyes, fluffy eyelashes, and sizes 90-60-90. We bet you immediately remembered Marilyn Monroe, right? The girls of the 50s are characterized by sophistication, sexuality, femininity, and a kind of naivety.

The 50s (Blonde) Style Retro Photography

Fitted dresses with wide belts, year skirts, wide-brimmed hats, gloves, small satchels, scarves, glasses, etc., are suitable for creating an image for a photoshoot in a retro style. The design of the clothes is done in bright sunny colors using simple patterns such as peas, squares, flowers, etc.

The image of girls at this time is actively used on the covers of magazines and posters. This era (although the phenomenon itself appeared much earlier) gave us such a direction as a pin-up.

The 60s (Hippie) Style Retro Photography.

Simple and comfortable clothes with unusual ethnic ornaments, jeans, massive accessories, and voluminous – all this is inherent in the Hippie style that has fallen in love with many. By the way, even today, the trend does not lose its popularity. First, the concept of culture is close to many. Secondly, it is in this style that many see freedom from the shackles of social standards.

The 60s (Hippie) Style Retro Photography

To take a photo in retro style, find the right unisex wardrobe and accessories. You can create an entourage with a guitar, a small van, wildflowers, wreaths, holi paints, etc. It is recommended to take a photo session in nature, for example, in a forest, park, or while traveling.

The 80s (Disco) Style Retro Photography.

The extravagant style will allow you to create unforgettable images. The main idea of ​​a retro photo session is to show all the originality and brightness of the personality. The main attributes are colorful leggings, sportswear, stretch jeans, colored glasses, shiny jewelry.

The 80s (Disco) Style Retro Photography

The style can combine incongruous; the main thing is that everything is bright and catchy. Filming can be carried out in a gym, in a disco, in nature. Nor should we forget the mood that the photo should convey: impudent, slightly eccentric, mischievous.


Every modern girl wants to find herself in the place of famous women of that time (20th century) and, in short, live the brightest moments of their biography. Each model wants to try on the image of elegance and daring, femininity and touching, sexuality and innocence, which the fair sex possessed in the 20s and 50s. Retro photography is a great way to taste the most notable moments of the 20th century.

Retro-style photoshoots and image creation should be taken seriously and prepared in advance. It is necessary to think over every detail, from wardrobe and props to technique. Instax cameras will allow you to maximize the atmosphere of the chosen era, with the help of which you can create cozy and superb photographs. Such pictures can charge you with a particular mood.

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