It’s part of my job here at OR to send gear to pro photographers for photo shoots, and there’s one refrain I hear over and over again: “Don’t send it in black.” They always want their models wearing bright colors that stand out against natural backgrounds like forests, skies, meadows, snow fields and rocks. Subject contrast is a really simple and important photography concept for photographing other people, and if used correctly, leads to better images from a technical standpoint.

So if you like helping your friends and any of them post to Instagram or haul in a DSLR, you can do them a near-effortless favor simply by wearing a colorful shirt or jacket next time you go adventuring in the great outdoors. Plus, you’ll look better in their photos!

Want to take it to the next level? Think about how complimentary colors can apply to the terrain you’ll be in. Hiking below timberline? Wear reds and oranges. Climbing in the southwest? Wear blues and greens.

To illustrate this point, we’ve used Photoshop to create an alternate version of five gorgeous images by PatitucciPhoto. The first version has everyone wearing black and gray jackets; the second version is the original. See what we mean?


*A note on black, gray and neutral colors. You probably look great in them. If wearing black makes you look good or feel good, please continue doing so. Some things are more important than your friends’ photos.
**No offense toward Batman, Darth Vader or ninjas was intended in the publishing of this article.

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