Whether you’re curious about the origins of Instagram’s most popular filters or want to achieve their look with the real stuff, we have just the photography cheat sheet for you.
Instagram may be the biggest thing to hit the online world in recent decades, but the visual aesthetics that catapulted it to popularity were largely borrowed from the glory days of film. In fact, without these retro vibes and nostalgic feels, it probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the phenomenal success and influence we see to this day. Want to know which cameras and films gave the famed filters their trending look? Today’s photography cheat sheet has the formulas that will give you the real deal!
The clever infographic below was put together by 1000memories and shared by Flavorwire way back in 2011. It was a time when both film photography and Instagram were almost simultaneously gaining traction among the younger generation of photographers. The secret soon came out that the nostalgia produced by Instagram’s selection of filters can be achieved authentically and organically through film photography — the magic of light and chemistry — instead of creative filters and pixels. But it may not be clear which camera and film combinations produced which look, until this infographic came out. So, in case you missed it, treat it as your rough guide/cheat sheet if you’re an Instagram expert but a film photography newbie.
Polaroid cameras, of course, are part of this cheat sheet. Instagram borrowed its square format from its iconic square prints. You’ll see two of the most iconic Polaroid cameras here: the Land Camera and the SX-70. Other equally popular square format cameras are also included here, such as the Yashica Mat 124 and the plastic-fantastic Holga and Diana cameras. The two medium format cameras are among the pillars of Lomography’s super-saturated subculture. The Holgaroid, as its name suggests, is the love child of Holga and Polaroid, essentially a Polaroid film back for the Holga. Lastly, there’s the Lomo LC-A, a Soviet-made copy of the Japanese Cosina CX-2.
Some of the cameras are largely responsible for effects like the vignetting, light leaks, and soft dreamy look, while the colors were produced by the slide films and instant film packs cited in the guide. The films were cross-processed to produce super saturated and trippy colors.
Visual trends for Instagram come and go, and not everyone uses the app’s filters anymore. But the look of these classic combos will always be a hit among the #filmphotography and #nofilter crowds. Hopefully, you’ll find some use for this cheat sheet should you ever want to do things the old school way!
Need more nifty tips and tricks for your projects and shoots this year? Check out more from our photography cheat sheets collection!