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  • Jennie Lou Harriman

Wedding Guest Dress Color: Perception or Illusion?


What color is this dress?

Is the color you see your perception, your individual observation and interpretation of what you see? Is it the perspective of the camera, its view of angles and light? Or is it an illusion?

I will be attending my niece’s wedding and wanted a nice dress to wear that fit me well. I found a beautiful Calvin Klein dress while at a thrift shop. I loved the quality of the fabric and the style of the dress, so I purchased it with some DIY in mind. It had one major problem. It was white. I rarely wear light colors, especially white. And I did not want to wear a white dress to a wedding, so dyeing was a simple solution. (As someone from the USA, this has made me wonder, what traditional colors do people wear who are getting married in other countries...?)

We each have a unique view of our lives, from what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch to how we feel and think. Personality, learning style, physiology, culture, climate, and life experiences come together to shape who we are and how we perceive the world around us.

I am mainly a visual learner. The easiest way for me to learn is by seeing text, photos, videos, diagrams and hands-on demonstrations. For other people, it is easiest to learn by hearing information, reading and writing, or by moving their bodies and doing activities. How do you learn best?

As a visual learner, I am sensitive to slight changes in color, light, and angles. I posted the photos above on my Facebook page with a comment that it was a beautiful day to dye a dress to wear to my niece’s wedding. This spurred a conversation between family members regarding the color of the dress. That conversation inspired me to photograph the dress in different ways. I did this quickly with my phone camera to keep it spontaneous.

When I change how I photograph this dress, what happens to the color?

What color is the dress in my woodshop with light from the windows on a cloudy day?

What color is the dress next to a skirt and fabric, inside with no lights on, with blinds closed on the windows?

What color is the dress next to a skirt and fabric, inside with lights on?

What color is the dress outside on a cloudy day?

What color is the dress with a piece of turquoise stone and fabric yardage?

When you look at this dress, what color(s) do you see? Do you still see the same color you saw in the first photo?

Now it’s your turn!

  • Find an object in your space. What color is it?

  • Put it near other objects of the same perceived color.

  • Put the objects in different types of lighting.

  • To see how photography changes the color and to see the examples all at once, take photos of the objects and line the photos up next to each other.

What do you notice? I would love to see and hear about your discoveries! Feel free to comment below, email me at artwithjennie@gmail.com or send me a message on my Art with Jennie Facebook page.

#color #wedding #dress #perception #photography #individuality

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Jennie Harriman • artwithjennie@gmail.com • 865.617.8344