Conversations on Color (with Jason Wheeler and Jean Francois Ortiz of Columbia Sportswear)

Jason Wheeler

Jason Wheeler
Operations Analyst, Columbia Sportswear

Jean-Francois Ortiz

Jean-Francois Ortiz
Director, Photo Studio & Production, Columbia Sportswear

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Podcast Episode 43


Think back to 2015 and you may remember, The Dress. A viral phenomenon that taught us a lot about how we as humans perceive color. As a photographer during that time, it sort of felt like watching the world learn a lot about what we already knew. Color can be deceiving and you never know what someone else ACTUALLY sees. In e-commerce, color is a constant topic, partially for this exact reason. If we can't control what devices people are using to shop, let alone how their eyes work, how much effort should we put into this? In this episode I'm joined by Jean Francois Ortiz and Jason Wheeler of Columbia Sportswear and we dig into color for e-commerce.

Key Takeaways

  • Color accuracy and fidelity has been a topic since the birth of e-commerce and digital photography
  • Color is so difficult to manage because of the sheet number of variables that are involved, both in terms of technology and how digital systems interpret color
  • Early on in the modern e-commerce age, the available technology made color accuracy very difficult. Cameras were lower resolution and monitors couldn't display the full spectrum of color for web.
  • As technology progresses, color accuracy gets easier to achieve but also becomes more important to pay attention to.
  • There are stills issues even as technology streamlines, such as display brightness or features like night mode or blue light mode.
  • The human eye only sees 3 colors of the spectrum and has to depend on our brains to interpret the colors. Who can say if we all see it exactly the same.
  • A key goal of the studio teams shooting product photography is to help the customer trust that what we are showing them is true and accurate.
  • For the studio, this becomes about simply having a consistent process that handles color the same way every time.
  • Color accurate swatching - A step with special tools and teams that can take the time to create an image that is as color accurate as possible.
  • Color is a headache that will never go away, but we can find a process that works and is repeatable in order to build consistency.

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