How to Use Complimentary Colors as a Photographer in Studio

Published: April 4, 2022

How to Use Complimentary Colors as a Photographer in Studio

Complimentary Colors to Pick Out the Perfect Outfit for Your Studio Photos

When you are shooting in a studio, you can’t get by with random outfits picked out of your closet at the last minute. Complimentary colors will help you select clothes that are specifically chosen to make you look your best in front of the camera, but it can be hard to know where to start when you’re picking out complementary color combinations. Here are some great tips on how to use complimentary colors to pick out the perfect outfit for your next studio shoot.

Light vs. dark


In photography, white and black are known as key colors. They’re complimentary colors—opposite on a color wheel—which means they balance each other out, making them ideal complements for your studio photoshoot outfit. White will make your photos pop, while black is slimming; black will highlight your curves and make you look longer in shots where you’re standing, and it’ll also draw attention up and down if you’re seated. So how do you decide which of these two key colors to use?

Color wheel basics


In-studio photography, wearing complementary colors can often give you photos that are more dynamic and eye-catching. Rather than a matching color scheme, complementary colors are those that lie opposite each other on a 12-color color wheel. For example, purple is complimentary to yellow and orange is complementary to blue. Complimentary colors reflect light differently than non-complimentary colors and can have very different effects in terms of how we look and feel.

Analogous color scheme


A color scheme based on three or more colors that are next to each other on a color wheel. This combination of hues tends to work well in nature and in studio photography, as they create a harmonic look. If you’re shooting an event, try pairing any two of these three complementary colors. When choosing your outfit for your photoshoot, choose one item from each trio of complimentary colors (or find something else entirely). For example a pink top with green pants and purple shoes. The possibilities are endless!

Complementary color scheme


Complementary colors are colors that, when combined, create a neutral color. These colors are opposite each other on a color wheel and often make for great outfits. The trick is finding complementary colors that work well together without clashing or being too similar in tone. For example, blue is complemented by orange but not red because orange and red both lean toward yellow. If you’re shopping online, sites like Wardrobe Oxygen can help you find complementary sets of clothing—this one lets you select two different complementary colors from your wardrobe and suggests three sets of clothes based on those hues. This can be helpful if you don’t have many clothes (or time) to shop. It’s also important to note that complementary colors aren’t always easy on the eyes. In fact, they sometimes clash horribly! So if your friend asks why her outfit doesn’t look as good as yours in pictures, it might be because she’s wearing a pair of complimentary colors instead of complimenting ones. If you’d rather stick with only two colors, try using neutrals instead. They may not be as trendy as bright-colored ensembles, but they’ll give you a more professional appearance. Neutral colors also help photographs stand out against backgrounds. As long as you are aware that some photos will require specific color schemes; wedding photography is just one example, it’s a good idea to decide on the proper attire and which colors to pair it with in advance. One of the best ways to make sure you don’t end up wearing the wrong colors to an event is to work with your photographer to come up with a plan in advance before the big day.

Monochromatic color scheme


If you’re not sure which colors will look good together, start with a monochromatic color scheme. Monochromatic outfits are created by using one color and varying tones of that color. These looks will match each other perfectly no matter how you mix and match your clothing. In a studio photoshoot, it’s best to stick with neutral tones (white, black, browns) but don’t be afraid to try out different shades of blue or green too! Be aware that these images can easily appear dull and boring if done incorrectly. To avoid any boredom in your photos, make sure you incorporate at least two pieces from different categories—for example, a dress from one category and accessories from another. For example: 1 top + 1 bottom + 2 shoes = 3 pieces.
(Monochromatic color schemes can also be used as an accent to another outfit.)

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