The Curious Cases of Retro Photography & Shaving

So, after a day of swallowing flies by the canal and eventually arriving home, I sat at my desk, transferred my photos, and began processing when a thought came to mind?

What is it with retro photography that seems so appealing?

So I sat… and sat… thinking of all the popular applications that make use of ‘filters’, and came to the conclusion that making a photo ‘wrong’ just seems attractive. It may as well be called brokography. I mean, taking a look at Instagram, Twitter, Oggl, and all the rest just seems to contradict the main point of a photo; to capture and display an image as close to human eye definition as possible, if not better. For years manufacturers have strived to increase photo quality, coming from half-baked fixed ISO film that could go wrong at any moment, to digital CCD’s and processors with the goal to reach the lowest ISO, a decent aperture, and a steady shutter speed.

Yet with the introduction of filters and companies such as VSCO, it seems like the clock just got turned back 30 years. Washed out imagery, distortion, grain, soft imagery, and the general question of ‘what even is this?’ seem to have made a spectacular comeback.

Then as I sat there, I began to look at these filters and effects in an artistic sense and see the point. I’ve used effects like these for a while, not all the time but here and there to sometimes add something fresh, but never really thought about what the different tints, low contrast levels, and other data could potentially mean in conjunction with the subject. For the most part it was just to make photos look pretty, but it became apparent that every subtle tweak of the vibrance, saturation, and other settings actually meant something.

So, next time you see a retro-styled image, take a look and have a think about why the effects have been applied. Sure, not everyone who uses filters actually thinks about them, but in the case they have been added purposely, you may just find some hidden nuggets within the RGB percentages.

In other news, I need a shave… and a hair cut. You can probably tell from the photo, but there’s no harm in re-iterating is there?

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