Monday, April 1, 2013

Passion For Color

Learn to use color deliberately to evoke emotion and deepen the narrative of your images
By Xanthe Berkeley With Tracey Clark, Photography By Xanthe Berkeley Published in Shooting
Passion For Color
Of course, like most things, the rules of photography also can work effectively when they're broken, and compelling color combinations can be found in the unlikeliest of places. A wide range of colors in the spectrum can work well together, not just complementary colors. You'll find yourself drawn to certain combinations intuitively, like a darker hue against a lighter one, for example.

When testing, trying and experimenting, the art of color photography can get quite interesting: intense, expressive, even playful. I gravitate toward the more playful, whimsical side of color use, as I often fill my frame with as much color as I can—rows of colored shoes, art supplies or vibrant graffiti, all of which make my heart sing.

And, yet, as appealing as a multitude of hues can be, another effective, and somewhat unexpected, approach can be to attempt a kind of harmony with shades of a particular hue. A monochromatic study (just one color at a time) within your frame can feel soothing and deliberate. Imagine a blue sky meeting a blue sea and even a blue boat, or green leaves against green grass. You have to depend more on the shade of the color and a play of light to get the variation of the color composed in a visually compelling way. When you do, this celebration of a single color within a single image can be very effective.


Once you understand how colors work together, you can seek out color in your world and choose how you'd like to include it in your photography. Beyond the actual color itself, you also must consider the placement of that color within your frame.

Where the color is and how it's arranged can make all the difference in creating a strong image. You may choose red Converse shoes standing on green grass, but where you choose to place those shoes in your frame is as important a choice as what colors you choose.

By tapping into the basic concepts of composition, you can use tried-and-true techniques to create and compose a compelling image. Consider things like balance, symmetry or asymmetry, repetition and framing as you choose where to place the elements of color in your images.


Being aware of what kind of effect particular colors may evoke is another way to add a layer of emotion to your images. Red can symbolize passion or danger. Blue may be calming or soothing. Yellow is usually sunny and cheerful.

Color can stir intense feelings. Understanding what message your color choice may be sending can be helpful as you decide which you choose to use.

Making deliberate decisions based on color communication also can allow your artistic intention to shine through in your work. The obvious examples may be expressing your playful side with bright, happy colors or using a subdued color palette to express melancholy or introspection. Although using color like this may be something you've done on a subconscious level, making conscious choices can add a new dimension to the stories you tell through your images.
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