How Nostalgia Affects Your Photography

Nostalgia takes us back in time and reminds us of the good old days. But nostalgia is selective in what it remembers. And the response to nostalgia vastly depends on the person experiencing it; it’s subjective. In this interesting video, photographer Jamie Windsor talks about how nostalgia affects your photography:

Nostalgia and the Retro Look

Things and events with nostalgic attachments usually make us happy because of the dopamine release that occurs when exposed to the stimulus. Dopamine makes us feel good. There are good examples of marketers and camera companies leveraging nostalgia to cultivate loyal consumer groups. For instance, photographers who were used to working with analog cameras love the retro design of rangefinder cameras. This is why many popular Instagram filters and other presets depict washed out, grainy film looks with light leaks.

image edited with film effect

“Faded black, heavy grain, light leak, color casts, are evocative reminders of our family photo albums from the days of film and cheap consumer cameras.”

Using Nostalgia as a Building Block

Being influenced by nostalgia is great, but what’s better is using it as a solid foundation to develop your work further. For instance, Fujifilm cameras sport the same old retro look while featuring modern technology and producing high-quality images. This way, Fujifilm is catering to nostalgic sentiments while being equally modern in terms of functionality.

image taken with a modern Fuji camera

“Value is created in things by embracing the new.”

What this means is that your work shouldn’t just be the reminiscence of the past. Build on it and take it ahead. You don’t need to be the next Henri Cartier-Bresson, Vivian Maier, Dorothea Lange, or Ansel Adams. Learn from them and try to incorporate something new and groundbreaking.

“Groundbreaking work from the past was groundbreaking because it broke ground, because it was something new.”

modern style of photography

Try new things, work with new concepts, and new ideas. This reflects authenticity in your work. Get creative! It’s not even necessary that your style of photography be covered by any of the existing genres. Why not create a platform of your own?

“Try being led by the subjects and what you want to say, not by a style that already exists.”

Are you obsessed with getting certain nostalgic looks in your images? Maybe it’s time to rethink that. What do you say?

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