How to Choose the Right Grey Background

Grey backgrounds are classic and timeless. Great for both formal and casual looks, they allow your subject to be the focus of attention in the image. And grey is just grey, right?

Well… not exactly.


What is Colour Temperature and Why Is It Important?


Often in photography, we think of colours in terms of relative “temperature” around the circumference of the colour wheel.  Where there is proportionately more blue, we think of a colour as being “cool”, and where there is more yellow, we think of the colour as being “warm”.


Contrasting, also called “complementary”, colour temperatures accentuate each other. Blue looks bolder right next to Yellow, and Red really pops against Green. 

Similar colours, those close to each other on the colour wheel, create a sense of harmony and cohesiveness. 

When there is no single predominant hue, we get a true neutral – white, grey or black. Neither warm nor cool, true neutrals have no temperature or “colour cast”. 

Focus Gray Seamless Paper is Savage’s most neutral grey background.


Exploring Savage’s 16 Shades of Gray Seamless Paper


In the chart below, Savage neutral and grey seamless paper choices are organized left to right by colour temperature, from warm to cool.  Notice that Black, Focus Gray and Pure white are in between, as they are neutral in temperature with equal proportions (or lack thereof) of red, green and blue pigment.



Complementing Skin Tones with Warm or Cool Gray Backgrounds


Principles of colour temperature can also be applied to skin tones. Ask any makeup artist or clothing stylist and they will assure you this concept is fundamental to their craft.

Warm complexions have yellow, peachy or golden undertones.
Cool complexions have pink, reddish or blue undertones.
Neutral skin tones have a greenish/olive undertone, or a combination of warm and cool undertones.

A very golden complexion can look sallow or even sickly against a cool, bluish, contrasting background. Conversely, that same warm complexion will look much healthier and more natural on a background with a peachier hue. Similarly, very fair complexions with bluish undertones look best on cool backgrounds as warm backgrounds tend to be less flattering, sometimes causing the subject to appear too pale. By familiarizing yourself with the variations in skin tone, you can more easily select the Savage Seamless Paper colours that will best flatter your subject.







Flatter your subject’s beautiful skin by choosing a background that complements their complexion rather than contrasting it. The subtlety of warm and cool greys can really add elegance and sophistication to your portraits.


 Original post from Savage Universal.