Challenge: WWII vintage photo effect

I’m fascinated with vintage photography. Not really the means of taking it; I like my modern DSLR and have no interest in trying my hand at old school film cameras. What I love about vintage photography is the story: how did the photo I’m looking at get made? How well was it taken care of over the years? Did someone affix it to their refrigerator or send it to a loved one hundreds of miles away?

I’ve been spending a great deal of time lately creating “faux vintage photos” from modern photography, in particular around WWII themes. (link, link) As I’ve shared these images online and with friends, I’ve been fascinated to hear the various opinions about what makes a “vintage” photo a good one. Some people believe that representing a WWII photo is about grunge, others believe it’s simply about adjusting for color fade over time. Still others believe that it’s not about accurate history, but about artistic interpretation.

Since there are so many varying opinions, and because this exercise is so much fun, I am issuing a challenge! The goal of this challenge is to create the best representation of a photo taken in 1943 using a photo taken in 2012.

1. Download this RAW file of a WWII reenactor

2. Apply any amount of post-processing you like. Filters, programs, effects, adjustments, whatever you like, go to town.

3. Post your image on the thread in the SMUG Facebook group. Your submission must include two things: a brief description of what you did to the image and a brief “story” that talks about how the image got in the state it is in. (Bonus for creativity!)

4. The deadline is Tuesday, August 7.

Here’s the best part: there are prizes!

  • $10 iTunes gift card
  • 11×14 ThinWrap (including block or easel) from Bay Photo
  • Recognition of your stunning victory in front of countless Austin photographers

This challenge is being driven together with Alex Suarez and the Austin SMUG group. Alex and I will be acting as the first pass judges, selecting our top 3 choices. From there, the SMUG group will vote a favorite.

This challenge is as much about telling a story as it is making a cool photo. If you want to beat the photo up, that’s great… just make sure to tell us how it came to be in that state!

Good luck and have fun!


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Jake McKee:


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