When Selective Color Works and When It Doesn’t

Selective color is something that so many people get excited about. I think it’s because it’s something that they don’t know how to do themselves, but I could be wrong. I get clients all the time who request selective color, and I have to tell you that inwardly: I wince.

It’s not because I detest selective color – I don’t! I think that there are some very great reasons to use selective coloring, just as there are some horrid times to use it. Let’s give you an example of what I mean.

So here’s a selective color photo. This is something that I have seen TONS of times from all sorts of photographers.

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Some photographers, for some reason, tend to make the bride’s flowers color and make everything else black and white. Yes, the flowers are gorgeous, but you’ve got three even more gorgeous smiling faces there – where does your eye immediately go? To the flowers, of course! Why would you want to focus on the flowers when you could see the smiling faces instead?

So in that option the selective color doesn’t work. Let’s see a photo where it does…

Here’s the same bride, the groom, and their children. Because it is a “blended” family during part of the wedding ceremony they all poured colorful sand into a jar to symbolize the family coming together.

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Now as a color photo it’s “all right”, and as a black and white photo, again, it’s “all right”. But when you make it a selective color photo, it works. That’s because you’re putting the focus where it needs to be – on the colored sand. You can’t really see the faces well, which is why making this photo selective color works.

Here’s another time when selective color doesn’t really work:

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I’ve seen this time and time again – people putting focus on the pretty flowers rather than the couple. As an engagement shot, the only focus you have should be on the couple, not the pansies. Why would you want to see those rather than the couple? (unless this was an ad for a flower shop or something LOL).

This photo, however, makes sense:

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Your focus is where it should be – on the bride and her amazing face. You can’t really see the faces of the attendants very well because of the pose so black and whiting them is no biggie.

See – selective color can work, and sometimes it doesn’t. Make sure you select a Vermont portrait photographer or Vermont wedding photographer who understands when to use selective color and when to avoid it :D.

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