Well Well Well

Is Aura Photography the Ultimate Vibe Check?

Apparently, red and magenta are the colors of my energy.

By Haley Shapley April 25, 2024

“Sometimes I can see colors around people,” my sister told me a few weeks ago.

“Really?” I asked. “What colors am I?”

“Red and magenta,” she replied.

Although it feels to some like a new-age idea, the concept of auras—that we each have an energy field around us that translates into colors— has been present in many cultures dating back centuries.

Even if you can’t see colors around people, you can probably feel their energy. We all, after all, have our own unique auras. To find out more about mine, and to test my sister’s guess, I visited Color of Our Energy, a photo studio in Seattle near the intersection of Belltown, Lower Queen Anne, and Interbay that practices aura photography. Inside the bright white space, photographer Alex Lee guided me through the quick process.

It starts by entering a dome-like structure, where Lee’s Aura Camera 6000 resides. The technology for this camera was developed in the 1970s and hasn’t changed since. I sit down on a black bench, then place my hands atop two blue boxes with metal sensors corresponding to various points in the fingers and palm. Lee says to think of them as meridian points, like in acupuncture—each point is connected to a different part of the body and determines where the colors pop up in a photo.

“The hand sensors are picking up vibrational frequencies,” he explains. “We have electricity in our bodies, so we have some electrical output, and that translates to a color assignment based on the frequency of chakras. What’s going to be on your picture is whatever signals you’re outputting.” Lee takes just a moment to set up, snaps the double-exposure shot, and then we wait for my Polaroid to develop.

Aura photography is a snapshot of a different kind.

As it takes shape, Lee explains what to look for in the photo. On the right side is the energy that’s coming in. Above the head is the energy you’re currently experiencing. And on the left side of the photo is the energy you’re putting out into the world. A band of color stretching above like an arch corresponds to something you’re holding in high esteem or working toward integrating into your life. Color by the throat is related to vocalizing, and color by the chest is what’s coming from the heart space. These latter two don’t show up as often.

Lee hands me a card with a handful of adjectives for each color, but he says I’ll be getting a link to a more in-depth explanation within 30 minutes of the appointment. In the meantime, we talk about the hue. Although everyone’s photos are open to their own interpretation, he likes to let people know what colors he sees, as some customers may be confused about the difference between indigo and purple, for example.

Lee transitioned from a career in public accounting to photography in 2019. In the time since, he’s discovered people get an aura photo for all kinds of reasons. Some want a cool profile picture or an unusual save-the-date, while others have questions on their mind. “Maybe they’re going through something and they’re looking for some clarity,” he says. “They’ve previously gone to a tarot card reading or a psychic, and now they’re looking for a physical medium for whatever reason.”

As my image develops, there’s a bright red halo that stretches from my right to left side, and above that, a band of magenta. Somehow, my sister was spot on. (“How did you know?” I called and asked. “Because I just saw it,” she said. Helpful.)

According to the page of information I received after the appointment, red is correlated with the root chakra and is about creating tangible change and forward momentum. Good news for the interpretation: I am very much a go-getter, and red would surprise approximately zero people in my life. The magenta band above signifies acting on intuition or creating from inner awareness. It’s typically seen in auras when we’re focused on prioritizing our own needs.

While these colors match up pretty well to how I feel, it could definitely be argued that the descriptions are just all-encompassing enough to apply to everyone, à la newspaper horoscopes.

I’m a logical person, but thanks to my woo-woo sister, I’ve learned a lot about methods of spiritual introspection, like birth charts, tarot cards, and aura photographs. One thing I’ve come to understand is that even if you’re skeptical, these can still be useful tools for self-awareness. What might be more important than whether Jupiter is in your ninth house or you pull the Queen of Cups is how you react to it. If I see new-beginnings red in my photograph and think of a relationship starting, that’s probably what’s foremost in my thoughts. If instead a career goal I’m working toward springs to mind, perhaps that’s where I should focus my attention. The interpretation leads the way.

When I saw that magenta band, it told me I needed to trust my gut on something I was hoping to ignore. I already knew this in my subconscious, but the aura photo brought it to the forefront for me. If I didn’t have anything like that going on in my life at the time, I likely would’ve keyed in on another element of the color—maybe I would’ve homed in on the rebellious, nonconformist notes to take a risk I’d been contemplating.

Lee says he’s taken enough photographs of himself now that he can tell what they’ll look like before they’re even developed. Auras can change over time, and his does to some extent—but he’s in tune enough with his energy now to know if he’ll be, say, orange or yellow on a particular day. 

Can a camera really capture your aura? I don’t know for sure. I think of it kind of like a mood ring. The scientific accuracy is debatable, but it’s a lot of fun. It can be illuminating, if that’s what you want—or just a cool new profile pic.

Filed under