Intrinsic colors, a counterpoint

With his bold focus on deeply saturated, yet intrinsic colors, Chris Rayn provides a counterpoint to the ubiquitious artificial or historicizing application of color in contemporary photography (be it a lack of all color – black and white – or scene-changing sepia filters etc.) By carefully selecting motives and composing his works with a deep understanding of natural lighting and an acute sensitivity for the innate colors of nature, Rayn reinforces the reds, greens and blues naturally occuring in his contrasting settings – urban and wild nature – in a sense of heightened reality, exposing the purified essence of each element in his work.

Function of color

Color carries two functions in Rayn’s pictures: first, it showcases the diversity of nature and Man’s creations, its contrasts and transitoriness, such as in the perennial change of seasons (from gray to reds to greens back to reds and browns) or the gentrification of neighbourhoods (replacing warm earth tones by cool blues). As such, in his stylistic language, color is not just used in contrasting ways between works, but also within, such as contrasting nature and city, rich and poor, modern and traditional etc.

Second, color carries a highly symbolic meaning in many of Rayn’s works, showcasing the innate cultural understanding of color on the one hand, but also applying localized meaning within his projects on the other hand. In “Whisper to Heaven“, Rayn juxtaposes the traditional Chinese understanding of Red as a deeply human, lucky color with bluish hues signifying the supernatural. “Unknown Heroes” frequently sees tiny worker figures trying to stand out and stand up against their overwhelming technological surrounding bathed in deep blues through their colorful, human clothing.

Through the affirmation, rather than rejection, of the innate colors of our natural and human world, Chris Rayn establishes yet another facet of his “canvas of nature” principle in his body of work. The emphasis on deep hues gives his works the rich and vibrant color palette they have been lauded for.