How to Understand Color as a Photographer

When starting out as a photographer, understanding how colors work together can be confusing, with color theory feeling daunting and sometimes a bit pointless. This short video gives you a fantastic introduction that will give you an insight into how to harmonize the colors in your photographs.

Kebs Cayabyab runs you through a quick understanding of some of the basics of how colors can work together without getting too bogged down into the details and trawling through ideas such as compound color harmony or double split complementary colors.

Color theory is useful but not essential in terms of progressing as a photographer. It might help to have a general understanding of how color can function in terms of design and photography, but as Ernst Haas, one of color photography’s pioneers, once said: “Beware of color theories. Theories in color photography are dangerous. The plain fact that there are so many of them proves my point.”

It’s fascinating to dig into photography’s history in terms of color. For example, did you know that the earliest commercially available color process — Autochrome — used glass plates layered with microscopic grains of potato starch that had been dyed red, green, and blue? The results were remarkable.

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He’s addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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