Color management is the process of coordinating colors from nature to camera, then to monitor, then to print, so you can be sure of the color that will be produced in your final images.
It’s a big and pretty complex part of Photography and Digital Imaging education, so if you are planning printing your artwork for galleries, submitting it to magazines, or are simply picky about the colors in your images, I recommend that you research and educate yourself thoroughly on color management, monitor calibrating and color profiles. If you mainly shoot for yourself and your local private clients who post your work on their Facebook – sRGB is the way to go.
If you’re planning to take your images to a local printing lab, give them a call and check what file format, resolution, color space and color mode would be the best to submit your work in.
Simply put, color space describes the amount of color information that your image file can contain.
sRGB (smaller) > Adobe RGB (bigger) > ProPhoto RGB (biggest)
Of course we would like to work in color spaces that allow more colors, right? Unfortunately, the problem with using bigger color spaces is that not all devices support them and will display colors correctly. If a viewer’s monitor or your client’s printer can’t display the color space your images are in, they will show dull and washed out colors. Matching the color spaces that are used on various devices is what Color management is all about. Since most of the devices that regular people use are not Color Management aware, sRGB is your good middle ground.
Check out how my photo that I retouched in ProPhoto RGB was displayed in a browser that doesn’t support ProPhoto RGB:
- Real World Color Management (2nd Edition) by Bruce Fraser, Chris Murphy & Fred Bunting;
- Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing by Margaret S. Livingstone;
- Visual Thinking: Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Printing by Rudolf Arnheim;
- Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye by Rudolf Arnheim;
- Color Management: A Comprehensive Guide for Graphic Designers by John T. Drew & Sarah A. Meyer.