We can blame apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram for the prevalence of filtered photos. Anyone with a smartphone can take a photo, slap a few filters on it, and publish it to the web in seconds.
Which explains why there are a ton of filtered photos out there that aren’t particularly attractive, and also why filtering has gotten a bad rap in some cases.
And yet, filtered photos remain popular, and for good reason. Proper filtering can hide a multitude of sins and make even a mediocre photo look like a work of art.
They can also be incredibly useful for making a bunch of photos from different sources look unified and like they belong together. That can be invaluable when crafting a design, whether it be for print or web.
Here we’ll take a look at how sites are using filtered photos to elevate their designs, and then share some more professional tools for creating your own filtered pics, sans-smartphone.
Websites using filters
There are tons of sites out there that use vintage-style and other filtered images. Some make them the focus of the design, using them as backgrounds or feature images, while others filter things like product photos.
The Prince Ink Company
Soyuz Coffee Roasting
Crop the Block
We Are Mammoth
Seattle Cider Co
Grand & Mortar
M Power Yoga
The Garden Edit
The First Time
Walked & Worn
Eva Black Design
To filter or not to filter
You’ve seen plenty of sites now that use filtered photos effectively. You may have a good idea of when you should or shouldn’t use these kinds of images. But here are a few guidelines to decide whether you want to filter your photos or not:
- You want to appeal to hipsters
- You have a bunch of photos from different sources that need to look cohesive
- Your site should have a retro or vintage feel
- You want to add some extra visual interest to a site that’s otherwise very minimalist.
- You want to tone down the images that you have to use because they’re competing with other design elements.
Granted, those aren’t the only reasons you might opt to filter your images, but they’re a good starting point to figure out if it’s appropriate or not.
Photoshop Action filters
While smartphone apps are most often used by amateurs looking to filter their photos, many pros who don’t want to create new looks entirely from scratch turn to premade Photoshop actions.
There are literally tens of thousands of actions available, both free and paid, with more being released all the time. Here are some great actions to get you started.
set 28 includes 4 different actions, including a black and white filter.
PS Action 12
PS Action 12 offers up a number of stylized photo actions.
Action 01 creates a faded effect on photos.
Vintage Effect – Ps Actions
Vintage Effect Ps Actions is a set of actions that emulate a number of vintage styles.
Old Photo Action
This Old Photo Action creates a warm vintage look for your photos.
Wedding Theme Action
While this is called Wedding Theme Action, the nine actions it includes are really appropriate for much more than just wedding photos.
HDR Tools is a set of three different levels of HDR look, from light to heavy.
Photo Coloring II
Photo Coloring II gives a warm vintage look to your photos.
Colors Actions is a set of six different colored filter actions.
Photoshop Action 23
Photoshop Action 23 adds a yellow filter to your images.
Hard Lomo Action
This Hard Lomo Action quickly gives your images a lomography look.
Retro Filters is a set of ten free vintage filters.
Purple Contrast does exactly as the name implies: adds a purple contrast to your photos.
Bella Action adds a warm feeling to photos.
Amatorka Action 2
Amatorka Action 2 adds a dynamic look to images.
Dramatic Sepia adds a very strong sepia filter.
Holgarizer is an Action that emulates the style of Holga camera photos.
HipstaRev Actions Pack 1
HipstaRev Actions Pack 1 is a set of three actions reminiscent of Hipstamatic filters.
StarDeviant Action 1.08
LT’s Retro Lightleak Action
LT’s Retro Lightleak Action creates a great vintage lightleak effect.
Cherry Haze is a warm pinkish filter.
The Buttercream Vintage action creates a warm, very slightly faded effect on photos.
Lomo Photoshop Actions
These Lomo Photoshop Actions create lomography-like effects on your photos. It includes both “Soft Lomo” and “Pure Lomo” actions.
Retro Pink Action
This Retro Pink Action adds a distinct pink hue to your photos.
Apps for filtering your photos
While Photoshop Actions can be a powerful way to filter your photos, there are also standalone apps that can do similar things.
The Pixlr-o-matic app lets you use photos from your computer or take them with a webcam. It offers a ton of different filters, most of which are pretty extreme.
Rollip offers a bunch of filters, effects, borders, and text. And it gives you a live preview of each filter before you select it.
Fotor offers free online photo filters for your photos, including lomo, vintage, and more.
MakeRetro.com offers up a handful of filters, including Lomo, Diana, and Chrome.
VintageJS lets you make stunning photos with vintage effects. Just choose your image, apply the effect, and save it. There are four effects offered: vintage, sepia, greenish, and reddish, or you can create a custom effect (something most of the other online apps don’t offer).