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


Obviously, a color photograph isn't made up of color alone. The subject matter has a huge role in defining your image—it's also telling a story.

The key is to use color to support, emphasize or even contradict that. You can do any of these. When your subject matter is punctuated by colors that fit it well and make sense, the color isn't usually the main focus of the shot.

When you choose to use color to help tell a story in a different way—through high drama or heavy saturation—your subject matter might become more interesting. Using unusual or unexpected color choices in your composition often can bring so much attention to the color itself that it's a true part of the subject matter.

There's no right or wrong way to use color. The object is to use it intention-ally, to see color as an element of your image that's as important as any other element, like texture, light, shape, perspective or even expression. Be mindful of your artistic intentions and use color deliberately to boost your creativity, improve your photography and have fun in the process.


Take these elements into account for more expressive images.

Weather: A bright sunny day will boost color saturation, while inclement weather mutes colors. On the grayest days (fog, clouds or rain), it can be hard to find color at all.

Time: Different times of day illuminate color in different ways. In the early-morning or last afternoon hours, colors soften with a warm glow. At midday, you'll get a much stronger and sometimes harsher effect.

Light: Plenty of bright, indirect light is often your best bet to getting the colors you see captured truest to life. On the contrary, shooting indoors using only ambient light can make everything yellow-orange, unless you're using a flash.

Processing: A lot can be done to enhance color in the digital darkroom. A simple tweak of contrast or brightness or a boost of saturation can help to brighten up your colors.

Photographer and writer Xanthe Berkeley is a contributor to Shutter Sisters; find her online at Tracey Clark ( is the founder of Shutter Sisters and author of Elevate the Everyday: A Photographic Guide to Picturing Motherhood (Focal Press).

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