On Instagram, I post my images in color order, and by "color order" I mean that I’ll never post a yellow image immediately after a red one without there being a transitional orange in-between. It sounds complicated, but as with most things if you take a look you’ll understand what I mean.
As a freelance photographer, my days, subjects, and locations change like nobody’s business; no two are the same and that (thankfully) makes for an interesting life and a varied camera roll. So when I began using Instagram, I'd publish iPhone notes of whatever I was shooting. Scrolling through my feed one day I noticed that blocks of color would appear as all the images from one place would have similar tones that changed with my change of physical location.
My commitment to detail (read as "control freak") meant that as soon as I’d noticed the smooth color transitions from one place to the next, I couldn’t stop. The whole process has now become more of a conscious exploration of the colorful world around me than just a collection of random visual notes.
Naturally, we all have colors and color combinations that we prefer to look at. When you work with images every day, you quickly learn where on the spectrum you feel most comfortable and you gravitate towards that feeling.
Personally I love a neutral palette; I stick to soft muted earth tones and the quiet outer edges of Pantone’s color guides that include glaucous greens, blue-grey amalgamations, and the occasional ray of golden yellow light if the sky is being kind.
I shy away from the bold, bright, shouty chips in the middle, though I don’t know if I can articulate exactly why. When it comes to visual aesthetic, there are no rules, no boundaries, and I’m certainly not one to dictate what’s right or wrong—what I do know is that those colors just aren’t really me.
What I’ve picked up along my technicolor investigations is that no color is what you think it is, and it all very much depends on what sits next to it. White is a fantastic example of this.
No color is what you think it is.
White is, for me, non-existent. The color of white chocolate is far from it, and if you type "white" into Pantone’s Color Finder it comes back with no less than 17 matches. It might sound pessimistic, but looking for an absolute "white" makes me question pretty much everything around me: If white isn’t white, then blue isn’t blue, green isn’t green, and the world starts to melt away because there’s nothing left to hold onto!
But organizing and sharing my images in this way has helped, by making me fall gloriously in love with light and the way that it manifests itself in front of me; I love to organize objects and to make them "sit right" in the light. Color is my way of making sense of the world.
A color that I can never avoid is green and I love a really deep version; it’s the face that chlorophyll chooses to show in a leaf, symbolic of all things positive and the color that the human eye is most sensitive to.
Color is my way of making sense of the world.
I could very easily move through every color of the rainbow and tell you why I do or don’t like each one, but that wouldn’t make for very interesting reading. Instead, I'd encourage you to play a color game of your own: Take more pictures and don’t just look, see.
India Hobson is a photographer living in Sheffield, England (she shot these amazing floral stories for us during the holidays). When she's not organizing colors, India writes about her travels on Haarkon.