In the colour management process, a colour profile is a file containing information that accurately defines a colour space, enabling a device to reproduce the intended range of colours.
Industry-standard colour management uses ICC-compliant colour profiles (or similar). ICC profiles can be recognized by their .icc or .icm file extensions.
Colour profiles address the fact that it may not be possible to reproduce all the colours that an observer sees in an original scene or on-screen when an image is reproduced.
The primary function of a colour profile is to select a colour space that ensures all the colours within an image can be successfully reproduced. In other words, the range of colours output to a device, such as a printer, are adjusted to fit its colour space and ensure they are in-gamut.
Colour profiles can ensure that original colours are managed consistently as an image makes the transition, for example, from a camera through editing to the paper or screen on which it will be displayed.
Editing software such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic can be set to match the make and model of the camera, the file format, and user-defined settings. These camera-matching profiles ensure that in-camera profiles and picture styles are honoured as they are imported into the editing environment.