One of the most important parts of creating dynamic and truly breathtaking images is using color harmony. Using complementary or opposite colors from the color wheel can help make your images pop. That's because when two complementary colors are paired together, they each make the other stand out. The most common example of this is yellow and blue. Although yellow and blue do not have a whole lot in common, together, they are capable of creating powerful images by making various elements within pictures come to life.
Different colors are also believed to evoke different emotions. This is why some of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world are willing to spend mind-boggling sums just to make minor color changes within their logo designs. As such, when you strategically pair colors in your images, you're not just making a visual expression. You are also choosing the exact impact that you want your photos to have on your audience, as well as the effects that you want various elements within your images to have.
When using color harmony in photography, you can refer both to a color wheel and the range of complementary colors that are inherently present in nature. One of the best examples of the natural use of complementary colors is the sunset. As the sun sets, the deepening blue of the sky sits in contrast to the reddish golds found on the horizon and mirrored in the clouds. It is the contrast that gives the sunset its visual weight.
On the color wheel, complementary colors are opposite one another. Thus, if you find your primary color choice on the wheel, imagine a single, straight line bisecting this wheel to find the perfect, complementing color on the other side. Red and yellow sit just opposite of blue. Magenta lies just opposite of green. You can also identify a triad of color harmonies by visualizing or even drawing an equilateral triangle at the center of your color wheel. While this type of pairing can hardly be construed as restful, it will add both depth and balance.
One secret I've used that works great is to go to Home Depot or any hardware store and visit the paint section. There you will find many useful color guides for free. These color guides show which colors go best together for perfect color harmony. I usually pick up a few of these and give them to my clients to use as clothing suggestions for sessions, especially for family sessions. These work particularly great for matching colors in their home and visualizing large portraits on their walls!
Understanding complementary colors and color harmonies will allow you to better prepare for each session. In addition to studying your color wheel, pay attention to how colors are perfectly paired in nature. You'll notice that it is the artful contrast between hues that is often the most appealing to the eye and the most memorable.