I had been shooting “color” photographs since I was a teenager, followed by four years of pure B&W in college (color was too daunting to develop and print myself). However, a few years later (1990?), when I took a color film photography class at San Diego State University in California (continuing education) with a great teacher, my understanding of color and approach to using it, were changed completely…
The instructor was a professional photographer, who unraveled mysteries, revealed revelations, made sense of the nonsensical, and answered all my unasked questions (who knew to ask such things?) about photography. How? He got into the physics of light (source of all color), the nature of sunlight and Earth’s atmosphere, reflective vs. absorptive qualities of surfaces and materials, and how to incorporate color more effectively in each photographic image. It was fascinating to me — I learned so much scientifically, technically, and creatively!
Years later, I still recall and use what I learned in that class. One key lesson about color is in my mind every time a camera is in my hands! By now, it’s a combination of what the professor taught, what I learned from doing the assignments, and my photography experiences since then. Here’s the BIG lesson as I remember it, modified slightly (no doubt) in my mind over time, now distilled down to a one-liner bit of advice:
Do color photography for color’s sake.— Unknown Professor
As you may discern, this brief statement (six words), is thought-provoking and nuanced! Filtering it through my personal aesthetic and creative proclivities, this simple idea has enormous depth and many possible interpretations. Especially when the professor also said, “If you’re not going to make good use of color in your photograph, you should shoot black-and-white!” Or something like that…
What I take from this, and apply to my personal photography every day, is: try to use and even “exploit” color — bold and bright, or soft and subtle — in my color compositions and captures.
My color instant photography work is showcased here, but here’s a slide-show sampling of my recent, digital, color work Some of these photographs are au naturel, “as-is” from the digital camera device, while others have been edited using various imaging applications.