Colour Gel Photography

Colour Gel Photography

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been researching and experimenting with different lighting techniques in mind to create a new photo experience. Delving into the world of off-camera lighting techniques, the one that caught our eye the most is colour gel photography.

What are Colour Gels?

Colour gels (also known as colour filters) are thin, square-shaped pieces of coloured transparent material used to place over a lighting source.

Visual artists use colour gels to control the colour in their work. People have been practising colour gel photography since the 1600s. The mood that the colour combinations create work towards the artist’s vision of the story they are telling.


Researching into colour gel photography has allowed us to gain inspiration from the 29 Rooms ‘no filter’ activation. They’ve used colour gel photography in an extremely creative way and used light (in their words) as ‘a paintbrush that transforms any environment.’ We’ve included photos from the ‘no filter’ experience below.


Actors, musicians and other celebrities have used the colour gel photography technique for music videos and album covers. From the purple and blue shade of Bruno Mars’ – Versace on the Floor, to the colour gel influenced portraits of Tom Holland and DJ Snake.


Testing the Colour Gels

We started the testing by seeing which colours look good together. A guide to measuring this is by referring to colour combination theories which are determined by the colour wheel. We decided to use the analogous colour theory in our testing methods, which involves combining three colours that are side by side on the colour wheel. The Analogous colour theory provides a high contrast look to an image, whilst also maintaining an aesthetic colour palette. The colours we matched were violet, blue-violet and blue.

Furthermore, we used what’s called butterfly lighting where the key light is placed above the subject’s face. Using this practice involves placing the light source directly above and opposite the subject. If done correctly, Butterfly lighting delivers a flattering and illuminating portrait on the subject. In the portraits below, you can see how we’ve directed each of the colours on the models.

Find out how you can implement the colour gel photography experience at your next event.


On Key

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