Replicate traditional photographic techniques using step-by-step walkthroughs. Part 3: Cartes de visite.

Postcard-sized cartes de visite depicted the personalities of the day and were popular collectibles in the mid-19th Century. One of the most celebrated collections belonged to John Hay, President Abraham Lincoln’s personal secretary.

Hay knew cartes de visite photographers such as Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner, who held stocks of autographed cartes, and like many collectors, he sent cartes to subjects with requests that they be returned with signatures.

There are two main steps to creating a Photoshop carte de visite. First, make a template for your standard carte. It could have a decorative border, and, for added authenticity, some printed text to advertise your “studio”.

Secondly, add the photograph as a vignette and include a handwritten signature, and then finish it with some sepia toning and any other details specific to the subject.

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When you’re applying aging effects to an image, it always helps if the picture has a suitably “vintage” look to begin with. Battle reconstructions and other historical reenactments can be a useful source of such material. 
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