Color, Light, and Design

with Joe Baraban

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Course Description

The word “photography” has at its roots the Greek terms for “light” and “to write.” Because light is the crucial element in photography, it’s necessary to understand its gestures, behavior, and the factors that influence it.

Joe Baraban calls his own approach to light “four-part harmony,” comprising hue, intensity, direction, and quality. Light affects all the elements of visual design—texture, pattern, shape, form, line, and color—so it is the first thing that should be evaluated, even before composition.

Lighting is what makes or breaks an image. Chasing the light, then waiting for it, and finally capturing it can be a constant preoccupation, even an obsession. We must know where to stand in relation to the light source, as well as when and how long to stand there.

It’s also important to comprehend the phases of natural light. We learn to distinguish the golden hour, the blue hour, and the twilights of daytime and nighttime, exploring the ways each can be used to create varying degrees of warmth and saturation in our images.

When considering the light, it’s equally important to think about shadows since they go hand in hand and are your best friend. Many photographers fear shadows and try to avoid them, but shadows should be embraced. Without them, a subject can appear flat and one-dimensional.

You finish the workshop with a greater command of color and light, a higher level of visual perception, and a redesigned portfolio to show off your new skills.

Additional Information

Amateurs, Advanced Amateurs

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Creative Vision
© Joe Baraban
Joe Baraban

Joe Baraban has created images for Fortune 500 companies and the tourism departments of Pennsylvania, Alabama, Texas, and Alberta, Canada during his 45-year career. He has worked on advertising campaigns for Acura, Toyota, Range Rover, Volkswagen, Ford, Honda, and Jaguar, as well as on catalogues for two-wheeled clients such as BMW, Kawasaki, and Honda. National Geographic, Life, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, Arizona Highways, and Texas Monthly are among his editorial credits, and Communication Arts, Photo District News, and Japan’s Design have all written cover stories on his work.

Joe has four photographs in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, was named to Adweek magazine’s all-star team, earned gold medals in the New York art director’s show, won the Photo District News Premier Award, and one of his photographs was selected as Texas Monthly Magazine‘s 100 all time best photographs.


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