This is the first in a series of articles I’ll be writing about colour management for Camera Jabber, so I suppose I should start with a brief introduction of who I am and why every photographer should make colour management a top priority.
My name is Ashley Karyl and I’ve been a professional photographer since the early 1990s, starting long before digital cameras appeared. For 11 years I was based in Milan, where I worked as a beauty photographer, shooting models for some of the top magazines and cosmetics companies, including Rimmel, Collistar, Io Donna and others.
Various assignments also led me to Africa, Australia and other parts of Europe, though the majority of my work was studio based and I enjoyed producing images with a fresh vitality that were appreciated by clients, who wanted to present a positive, healthy image of their products.
Cosmetics companies are obsessed with colour accuracy
Rather ironically, I’ve always been happiest when shooting black & white art-based images. But early encounters with art directors made it clear I had to shoot clean colour if I wanted to work regularly, and the transformation in my work fortunes was startling.
Cosmetics companies are obsessed with colour accuracy because every season they are selling a precise shade of eyeshadow or lipstick etc, but there is no way a photographer can deliver that accuracy without an effective colour management workflow, during every step of the process.
Although my experience applied primarily to beauty photography, it would be exactly the same if you were shooting fashion, jewellery or any other kind of product, because colour is such a vital part of marketing and branding, which is why that red used by Coca-Cola is always the exact same shade in everything they do.
Colour management starts before you even release the shutter
There is a common misconception that colour management is just a couple of settings applied inside Photoshop, when it’s so much more than that. Colour management starts before you even press the shutter button and ensures the smooth translation of colours from camera to display, before passing through print or some other display medium. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be complicated these days.
I see a lot of photographers wasting endless hours on colour correction, but if they practised good colour management it wouldn’t even be necessary. The big upsides of colour management are huge savings in time, stress and money, by delivering consistently accurate results straight out of camera and continuing throughout post-production.
Over the years, I became increasingly more involved with colour management and eventually it became a reason that clients were hiring me as a photographer, because I was saving them a fortune in print costs. I also became an X-Rite Coloratti Pro and worked closely with some other large companies within the industry.
Later on, I also started helping other photographers to set up their workflows properly and explain the basic concepts, because I found that even highly experienced photographers were often confused by wildly technical explanations they had been given.
Colour Management Pro – the ultimate guide to colour management
This eventually led me to write an eBook called Colour Management Pro, specifically aimed at helping photographers to strip away pointless theory and concentrate on simple concrete steps that deliver huge improvements, while dramatically reducing the overall costs and workload.
It was a huge task that took almost four years to complete, but it covers just about everything you could ever wish to know about colour management, so you’ll quickly learn how to shoot, edit and export your images with perfect colour consistency every time.
Although the book itself contains most of the useful information, it also comes with some HD video tutorials and other resources, while detailing how to organise a practical workflow using Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One Pro, Pixelmator and Elements.
In the next few articles, I’ll explain the basic concepts of how to calibrate your equipment and go into specifics of the equipment needed to do the job properly.
- Find out more about Ashley Kayrl on his website, along with details on how to buy his book colourmanagementpro.com