The Ultimate Guide to Color Theory for Photographers

Color is all around us, and when used correctly it can help your images come to life. Color has the power to transform your compositions; from dull and uninspiring to exciting and alive.

Understanding Color Theory

There is a lot to explore when it comes to color theory, and how it affects our images, but understanding the color wheel and how the different colors work together and complement each other is a great place to start. Different color combinations provoke different feelings and responses; with some color schemes working together much better than others.

By understanding how different colors work together, you’ll be able to see things differently, and get the most from the colors around you. Here’s a basic look at some different color combinations.

Analogous Colors

First, let’s look at analogous colors. These are the colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. An analogous color scheme can consist of anything from two colors on up to half the wheel. These colors – think blue and green – can often make for a pleasing and harmonious color combination.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are shades that are located directly across from each other on the wheel. Think: blue and yellow or orange and green. These colors are complementary because they are said to work well together. Complementary combinations can create a high-contrast and vibrant look especially when used at full saturation.

Split Complementary Colors

A split complementary color scheme takes two colors that are directly opposite, and another color that’s one of the complementary colors’ analogous color. This type of combination often works extremely well, helping to balance out an otherwise high-contrast color combination.