[for photographers] Incorporating TtV photography into your portrait sessions

If you have visited my Etsy shop, you know that I have a special little place in my heart for TtV photography.  TtV stands for Through the Viewfinder, and, essentially, you use your digital camera to take a photo “through the viewfinder” of a vintage camera.

The photos look something like this:

So, what’s the deal with this whole TtV thing anyway?

It is certainly not for everyone, but it can be an excellent way to add a vintage flair and some creativity to your photography and your portrait sessions.

You will end up with a slightly distorted, kinda gritty, and completely charming image.  And… it is just a great way to play and retaliate against those barriers of complacency and boredom that we all run into when we do the same thing too often.

What kind of vintage cameras should you get?

Whichever brand you choose, it needs to be similar in style to this:


It needs to have a large viewfinder, usually on the top of the camera, that you can look into.  On the one pictured, the viewfinder is that metal rectangle sticking up from the top of the camera.

I use and love my vintage Argus Argoflex Seventy-five, but there are several brands that you can try, like the Kodak Duaflex, the Argus Seventy-Five, or the Kodak Brownie Reflex.

I would love to expand my collection because each camera comes with a distinct look based on the wear and tear of the viewfinder.

What should you look for when you buy the camera?

Ebay and Etsy are great places to search for vintage TtV cameras, but make sure that you see a picture of the viewfinder (or a picture taken through the viewfinder) before you buy.

You could end up with a viewfinder that is so foggy and worn that you can’t see any image out of it, or you might end up with one that is too pristine and doesn’t provide you with the character that you want.

Click here for an Etsy TtV camera search.

Click here for an Ebay TtV camera search.

How do you do it?

There are complicated ways to take TtV photographs that involve building contraptions to connect your digital camera to your TtV camera and keep out all possible light.


There is the super easy way.  So, let’s go with that.

1. Hold the TtV camera in one hand, or just place it on the ground or on a table.

2. Hold the digital camera in the other hand.

3. Look through the viewfinder of the TtV camera, and move it around until you see the image that you want to capture.  (This could take some finesse, because there are lots of ways to hold that camera and not see anything.)

4. Focus the digital camera on the frame of the TtV camera, snap your picture.

That’s it.  Easy peasy.

After you take the picture, crop and edit to taste.

* If you are worried about the resolution or size of the final product, consider using a macro lens.  You will crop a considerable amount of your photo out of the picture.  Unless you like the look of the image above that still has the ground showing, cause that is kind of cool, too 🙂


P.S. Have questions?  Post them in the comments, and we will find some answers.

P.P.S. Now, go play!  Then, come back here and show me some links to your pics! 🙂