Color Theory and Photography


Wednesday, August 10, 2016
1:00 - 3:30 pm
One 2½ hour session


$25 for one seminar. Register here.


This class is about developing a personal style in our photographs by learning more about color theory and harmonies. Before the start of class, students will need send to the instructor two photos that they have taken, in which they like the colors.


We use color harmonies because the majority of images are about form and color.  Working with this framework means two things.  First, you control form by focusing on composition, both in the field and in the studio. Second, that you control color by working on the color palette of the photographs, again both in the field and in the post processing.
color wheel
purple and yellow photo


Why use color harmonies and theories?

  1. First, this means that creating an image that features a specific color harmony is more time-consuming than creating an image in which the colors are not harmonized.

  2. Second, this means that creating a color harmony is a deliberate, thought out and planned process.  One has to know which harmony one wants to create and one must work deliberately towards creating this harmony by modifying existing colors.  This means altering certain colors slightly or significantly, increasing and decreasing color saturation to a small or large extent, decreasing and increasing the brightness of individual colors, and occasionally removing a specific color altogether.

  3. Third, this means that understanding how color works is required. 

  4. Fourth, It also means knowing how to modify the three variables of color: Hue, Saturation and Luminosity.

  5. Fifth, it means that because learning how to do all this takes time and commitment, once we do learn it, we will be part of a small group of photographers who have decided to go further than the majority of photographers.

  6. Sixth, it means taking a significant step in the direction of developing a personal style.

  7. Seventh, it means joining the ranks of all the other artists who have worked in color, meaning just about every artist out there from hundreds and thousands of years back.

  8. Eighth, by implication it means giving an artistic direction to our work from the perspective of color.



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