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Color Theory Basics With Natalia Taffarel | You Can Only Improve So Much Without This

By Kishore Sawh on November 7th 2016

Natalia Taffarel is a bit of a tour de force when it comes to retouching, and I say that not simply in terms of her willingness to share information and educate, but regarding the straightforward and honest way with which she delivers it. The Argentinian was born to a family of printers, has a background in advertising and graphic design, and is a Certified Adobe Expert, so it stands to reason that she would be a stickler for color theory and impressing upon everyone why they should be too. And you should, for the love of God, listen.


Natalia worked with Wacom earlier this year to create some resources for photographers with a focus on color theory, and part of that was the video you’ll find at the foot of this page. In this short video Natalia doesn’t really mince words as much as she just tells the viewer plain and simple about how necessary color theory is, and impresses upon them how much of a requirement it is in a professional photographic capacity. Incredibly, she manages to steer you in this short video to the most pertinent parts of color theory to focus on to begin (complimentary colors), giving you the starting point, and explains why it’s critical, and where it comes into play in an image. In 4 minutes she gives the ‘Y’s behind the ‘Q’s you have and maybe didn’t know you did.



Color theory is something a bit close to my heart, and as I’ve said before, it’s the word ‘theory’ that I believe turns most people away, especially as in the case of color theory it intertwines the physics of light, physiology, and psychology. As photographers, we have a desire to just ‘do’ and just ‘create’ whatever is within (especially in the wake of rear LCDs and instant gratification), and theorizing doesn’t often come into play. How we learn photography today is so vastly different from before, and totally different to how art students learn; for them, the importance of color theory is impressed unto them immediately.

An understanding and the implementation of color theory is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the few absolutely critical elements to great art, and photography as part of that. It also happens to be one of the elements most ignored and little understood by most photographers, ergo it’s not implemented by the majority and thus one critical way photographers are not getting the best out of their work.

For a bit more or a primer, check out the following articles that give background and tools to help:

Intro To Color Theory & Practical Tips | A True Divisor Between The Pro & Amateur

What Is The Perfect Skin Tone? The Importance Of Color & Tonal Matching

Find more from Natalia here.


Source: Wacom

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. C Campbell

    Thank you; for providing a resource to explain how important color theory is. It’s difficult to find good information on how color theory relates to post production and how understanding color / light also relates to your subject. This is something I explain to our editors at post house all the time and it’s great to have this resource to back-me-up. Thanks again!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      C, you’re most welcome. Natalia is brilliant and cuts to the heart of the matter. We have more info on color theory on site so do a bit of poking around. Cheers

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  2. Yaneck Wasiek

    great article and good video. Thanks for putting it together!

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  3. Kingsley Burton

    Awesome article….thanks to Natalia and Wacom

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  4. Éric Livernoche

    « As photographers, we have a desire to just ‘do’ and just ‘create’ whatever is within (especially in the wake of rear LCDs and instant gratification), and theorizing doesn’t often come into play.» — So true. Awesome article. Thanks!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Éric, glad you liked and found use of it. Don’t hesitate to let us know directly what else you’d like to see/learn. Cheers

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