Hand Colored Images

Back in the days of film hand coloring an image was a tedious process. You started with a black and white negative and literally colored in the parts where you wanted color to be. With the advent of color film this style became “old fashioned” and stopped being used many photographers.

Digital images and editing programs have given new life to this technique. Unfortunately the ease of this technique also means that many people simply color in any part of the image without regard to the overall aesthetic of the image.  To get a good hand colored image there has to be a harmony between the colored part of the image and the black and white part. Here are a few tips to watch out for.

Overall Composition

I find that a lot of people use this technique to deal with a busy background. This doesn’t always work. A busy background will still be busy whether it’s in color or black and white. Coloring a busy image does not necessarily drawn attention to your subject. It just looks like a busy image with color. For the best results start with a clear simple image.

Choose a Focus

To keep from creating a colored chaos pick one color or focal point for your image. Remember that this is a highlighting technique, not a cure for a busy image. If you color in to many things then the viewer won’t know where to look and will be confused as to what the focus of the image is.

Create Even Tones

This technique works because tones of the black and white process match the tones of the hand coloring. If the black and white image is soft but the hand coloring is stark or overly bright then the images appears disjointed. The opposite, a hard edge black and white with soft hand coloring, is also unsettling to look at. When taken to the extreme the image can take on a “cut and paste” look, as if the colored images were literally cut from a magazine and pasted on the black and white image.

This style of processing is great for portraits or a fun way to highlight artistic points in an image, however it’s not suitable for every image. Enjoy creating your unique images.


Help Your Photographer Help You

Professional quality digital cameras are now available to anyone with a few thousand dollars to spend on one. Decent consumer cameras, known as “pro-sumer”, are available for a couple hundred and are available at almost any place that sells electronic equipment. Many of you reading this may even own a DSLR camera and most likely have taken a few “oh cool” images. While these images are great for Facebook or scrapbooking, it doesn’t take long for most people to realize that there is more to photography then an expensive camera. There is lighting, posing, style and, in some cases, the ability to use professional editing software. Although a lot of the technical things are handled by the photographer there are things that you can do to help make the images of you or your family great.

One of the most important things is to know what you are looking for. That’s not to say that you need to plan the entire session yourself but it does help the photographer if you have a basic idea of what you want, what you like and what you need. Take a few minutes and write a short list of things that are important for your session. This could be anything from wanting the child in multiple outfits, a specific editing technique or for a specific purpose. Knowing in advance what  you want allows the photographer to be more creative and use the time you have together more efficiently.

Before the photo session you should sit down with your photographer and your list to make sure that their creative ideas and style of photography will produce the images you want and need. Most retail chain studios do this step in the few minutes before your appointment. The downside to this is that you have no time to get personalized props or clothing that might be suggested during the consultation. I find it best to do this a few days before the session so that everyone is on the same page and understands what is to be expected. If necessary this can be done over the phone, as long as you are certain that the style of images is what you like. The worse thing to do is set up an appointment with someone whose style completely different from what you like and then expect them to change it.

Photography is as much an art as a service. There are many styles, personalities and points of view. With hundreds of new photographers flooding the market each year you should be able to easily find someone that suits your style, needs and budget.