Color theory is something that we are taught at a very young age. Do you remember when you were in first grade and you teacher showed you a color wheel, which represented which colors go well with each other? Fast forward 10 or 20 years, and you would be surprised at how much color theory comes into play with photography.
While our style is different than most, and influenced by some of our mentors, we have incorporated use of colors into our photography, in order to give our images a different look. When you use the right colors, your images will look better to the viewer’s eye, even if they know why or not. We get asked often, how do you incorporate color theory into your wedding photography? There are three basic ways that we do it.
This is using the natural colors in the environment in order to incorporate complimentary colors into your images. When shooting in the right light, around sunset, you can get those warm tones that compliment well with the natural blues in the sky. Incorporating both colors into your images will allow for a better final product.
During weddings, we often use environmental colors from uplighting, or the tungsten lighting found in most banquet halls, in order to get our colors together. Take a look at the photos below for examples of both.
Another trick that we do to achieve our colors is use flash gels. We do a ton of work with off-camera flash, and I believe any photographer getting started in wedding photography must be proficient using off-camera flash. We use flash gels to modify our light color to achieve complimentary colors. We do this by either changing our flash color, or modifying the color temperature in conjunction with our in-camera white balance settings. The image below was an example of using flash gels in combination with white balance setting. We often use an in-camera tungsten white balance setting in order to achieve that “fantasy” look.
While editing is not my recommended way to achieve any look you want. We often use it to supplement our color theory. Using Lightroom or Photoshop, you are able to enhance the looks that you created in camera by giving your colors a bit of pop. I recommend local adjustments, such as your brush tool in photoshop, or selective coloring in Lightroom, in order to enhance the colors where you want them enhanced. One technique I am going to look at today is using selective coloring in an image with very neutral colors. You can see the below image straight out of camera. On the final image, we added a blue vignette to darken the mood of the photo. We then added the complimentary orange to the key light in order to make this image different.
We have made it known that we are not very secretive with our techniques. Most of what we know, we have learned elsewhere. We believe if we help other wedding photographers, then we will make the industry better as a whole. If you have a question that we can answer in an article, please don’t hesitate to ask!