I’ve always loved the look of old polaroids, particularly those on Type 55 film. And since Type 55 will be discontinued by Polaroid along with all of their other instant films, and since it’s very expensive to begin with, I decided (despite feeling like I’m cheating) to recreate the Type 55 look in photoshop.

Here’s a horrible little tutorial I wrote about how I turned this photo:


…into this photo:

  1. For the first step I took the original photo, desaturated it, applied lots of contrast and shadow/highlight adjustments and made it a nice high-contrast b&w image.
  2. Next I took two different stock Type 55 borders and brought them in on separate layers. I couldn’t find any already made hi-res enough that I liked so I made my own by finding some scanned hi-res type 55 images and I photoshopped out the subject element leaving only negative space in the center.
    Here’s a .zip with some nice Type 55 borders I made that you can download and use however you want: http://breezybaldwin.com/resources/type55borders.zip
  3. So now I had 2 different stock border layers and one layer w/ my original image. The reason I use 2 borders by the way is because I want to make each photo I edit this way look unique, just like the real film does. No two type 55 polaroids have the same looking border. So I mix and match portions of each border depending on what suits the original image best.
  4. Before I messed with the border layers I moved the original image to the top layer and duplicated it. I set the first one to ‘overlay’ and the one on top of it to ‘linear burn’. Right now it should already be looking pretty cool.
  5. After that I tweaked all the layers individually. This step would be different for each photo you make. Since we are trying to imitate film, it’s best to give each image it’s own worn or under/over exposed look. On mine I added an extra ‘overlay’ layer to boost the highlights a bit, I added a color overlay layer to the very top that’s a nice sepia tone (a very muted, greenish one) and I duplicated one of the border files and put it on top on ‘color burn’ and erased the edges to add a bit more grunge to the center of the image so it matched the grunginess of the edges more. Then I erased bits and pieces of each border layer to get a nice unique looking border that blended well with the photo. Now I didn’t do this in my photo because it already had a pretty strong DoF, but you may want to create some fake DoF using the selection tool w/ a nice feather radius and the Gaussian Blur filter.

If you’d like to download an example .psd of my image above, here you go (it’s not full-size but big enough to give you a good idea of how it’s done if you’re lost): http://breezybaldwin.com/resources/type55_example.psd.zip