Thank you! Actually, the film look is quite easy to do; by nature, film has a lower contrast than digital (due to the much increased latitude of its dynamic range)… there are rarely true blacks or true whites with film (at least with most of the fashion photography a lot of us are fans of). To adjust this, use the tonal curve in LR or a curves layer in PS: raise the shadows a little and lower the highlights a little. Then anchor another point somewhere in the mid-tones (I usually do it a little lower than the center), and lower it a bit; should look like a slight dip. From here, you just gotta play around and find the right look you like, which may also involve adding additional anchor points (like creating an S-curve). From there, the rest of a basic ‘film look’ involves adding color to the shadows (blues and magentas are very popular with fashion photography). You can do this by using another curves layer or a selective color adjustment layer or go for split toning. I will say the key to split toning is not over-doing it; I see a lot of people going for tons of saturation when split-toning, and it doesn’t look very good. I keep my saturations below 30 for shadows and below 15 for highlights; less is more, in my opinion…otherwise you end up getting what looks like a cheesy Photoshop action.
Finally, the most important ingredient in ‘the film look’ is GRAIN. ”Clean and crisp” is way overrated, so don’t be afraid of grain. Look to any of the masters’ work: Weber, Lindbergh, Ritts, Newton, Penn, Avedon… all are typically lower contrast, with visible grain. Photoshop’s grain filter is crap; Lightroom’s is 1000% better; start with settings, 25-30-50 and add more/less to your taste.
A tip you can do in-camera to strengthen a ‘film look’ is to shoot manual focus. ”Tack-sharp” in photography is another thing that’s WAY over-rated. Film generally has a soft-focus quality to it, probably because those guys were shooting with full-manual cameras back in the day, so they didn’t have “AF with 61-cross type points”. They relied on their instincts and anticipation… and indeed it is imperfect… which is what is so great about film.