In photography, what do we mean by “complementary colors”? And how do we use them?

When take a photo, as well as in painting and cinema, the use of complementary colors is of primary importance.
In order to obtain an optimal result, you cannot proceed without knowing the theoretical bases of color.

In principle, there are three categories of colors:

1) Primary colors;

2) Secondary colors;

3) Complementary colors.

Complementary Colors in Photography- Giulio Fasiello Fotografo Professionista

Briefly, primary colors are the ones that you cannot get by mixing other colors, and these are blue, red and yellow.
Secondary colors instead, are those that you get by mixing two primary colors. And finally we come to the pivot point of this article: the complementary colors.

When it comes to complementary colors in photography, we always refer to a pair of colors: a color is defined as complementary to another one, if it is opposed to it on the color wheel.

This means that they are clearly opposite to each other and, when used in the same composition, they create a sharp contrast effect.
When mixed, on the other hand, they create a gray.

It doesn’t take just a very expensive camera to take memorable photographs.
The secret to get a good shot is learning step by step and starting from the basics.

What are complementary colors used for in photography?

They are very useful when it comes to balancing contrasts.
Depending on how you choose to balance the colors, you can make a photo a static or dynamic one.
What does it means?
If, for example, you take a photo in which there are two complementary colors, you get a result that is static, but at the same time of great contrast.
If instead you have two complementary colors, but one tends to prevail on the other, then this will evoke a certain dynamism, as if there was some kind of movement.


Let’s take, as an example for the use of complementary colors, red and green:
The first thing that grabs your attention is the very contraposition of the two complementary colors.
Looking carefully for a few moments, you will understand how to use thecomplementary colors in photography to evoke the very same movement that the model is performing.

She is static, with a hand in her hair and she’s covering her face following us with her glance.
You may instead say that in the second photograph the model has just moved.

But if you focus your attention on the use of complementary colors, you will feel like she has just moved her glance away from us, apparently distracted by something or someone.

The importance of complementary colors in photography

The proper use of complementary colors in photography is therefore of fundamental importance in order to give the right perception to who’s watching.
It all depends on you and on what you want to see in a photograph, on the interpretation that each one of us gives to the picture.

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If he is able to ignite your curiosity with just the use of complementary colors in photography, think of how many emotions one of his professional works will arouse in you!

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