A Note on Content

The purpose of this blog is twofold: (1) to advertise my services as a photographer, and (2) to provide useful information to people who want to take better pictures, particularly when it comes to photographing children.

Although I have not organized the blog posts in any particular order, I have tried to start with basic information and build from there, so those wanting to learn more about photography and visiting the site for the first time may want to start with the oldest posts first.

If you have questions or comments about the blog, please feel free to leave a comment or to email me directly. I hope the photos and other information presented here help you appreciate the art of children's photography, and inspire you to take great photographs of your own.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Making Color Count


Paying closer attention to color is a great way to add extra "oomph!" to your photos. So, at the risk of evoking bad memories from junior high art class, I wanted to talk briefly about color and how to use it as a creative tool.

At the top, you'll see the familiar color wheel. (Not quite sure why this version chose to add the funky shape in the middle, though, if I had to guess, it looks like it's designed to serve as a reminder that the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue, and they combine to form the secondary colors of orange, green, and purple.) Considering the various colors in relation to one another, you'll find the "complementary" colors at opposite points on the wheel: for example, red and green, purple and yellow, orange and blue. Nature produces bold complements in spades: think red holly berries and green holly leaves, a field of dandelions and violets, california poppies against a blue, blue sky, or, as in the second photo, a bright red blanket flower against a background of green grass. That picture pops because the colors complement each other.

Now, here's a wrinkle: which colors are "complements" depends on the color wheel you use. So, for example, on an RGB color wheel--the color wheel used in ink jet printing, computer screens, and Photoshop--the complement of blue is yellow, green is magenta, and red is cyan. Fun stuff, eh?

But here's the point: regardless of the source of the color wheel or exact location of Color A and Color B on whatever wheel one chooses to use, complementary colors work: in painting, in advertising, and, yes, in photography.

To illustrate, take look at the final photo. Here the complements are subtle and soft: a slate blue dress (and blue eyes) with a faint yellow wall/drape in the background, and yet that bit of complementary color gives the photo a balanced and refined feel, at least to my mind.

So, give color some thought. Often there isn't much a photographer can do about color, particularly if one is photographing children outside and on-the-fly. But even if you lack the ability, as in a studio setting, to pick the perfect background, often a little foresight can help make color work for you. So, for example, consider putting the little girl in the pretty pink dress in an orchard in early spring, where the fresh green of the orchard grass will act as a perfect complement. Little boy blue? Maybe stand him in front of a row of sunflowers. Get the idea? Think. Color. Create.

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