Do you have trouble deciding which color combinations to use in your photographs? Using the proper colors in photography draws attention to your subject, creating a stunning visual impression that is attractive to the eye.
Although our eyes and camera lenses are naturally drawn to particular colors and combinations, it’s a good idea to be aware of certain color theories and strategies when shooting in the field or the studio. To get the most out of your shoots, we must first understand the fundamentals and principles governing color, which we plan to demonstrate. So, before we go into the best color schemes for photoshoots, let’s go through the fundamentals.
What is color?
Color plays a vital role in design and everyday life. It can draw your eye to an image and sometimes it can trigger an emotional response. It can even communicate something important without words at all.
Color in photography mixes art, science, and culture. It has the power to make or ruin the mood of a scene and photo narrative. Color elicits emotions, which is why we incorporate color tones and temperature in photographs. Here’s an example of colors and some of their associated meanings, yet like with so many photography tools, it’s OK to break the rules now and again!
Red, represents energy, enthusiasm, passion, and rage.
Orange, represents warmth, enjoyment, and zeal.
Yellow, represents happiness, kindness, and inventiveness.
Green, represents serenity, natural harmony, and progress.
Blue, represents serenity, chill, grief, and trust.
Purple, represents spirituality, mystery, and elegance.
Magenta, represents innovation, transition, and nonconformity.
It will appear less credible if a terrifying, ghostly abandoned hospital is bathed in pleasant, gentle sunlight. But a grey atmosphere would do the job.
Classes of color
There are three main classes of color. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors are created by combining two primary colors. They are orange, green, and purple. Tertiary colors are created by combining a primary color and an adjacent secondary color.
Note: Colors should be used with care to achieve beautiful pictures. Give equal weight to composition, frame, and technique such that it contributes to the overall story of the shot.
Check out C&I studios, we understand the importance of colors in storytelling.
The color theory and color wheel
If you’re not sure what colors to start with, use the color wheel! Working with color theory in photography results in images that are harmonic and balanced.
As you may know, color theory is a long-established system of rules and standards that govern the use of color in art and design. It is still used by artists, designers, and photographers today because it works. Naturally, knowing these fundamentals will improve your photography. Learning how the color wheel works and, in general, the fundamentals of color theory can undoubtedly make you a better and more exceptional photographer. Make use of these color palettes, but don’t forget to be creative as well.
Color theory merely provides principles and should not be utilized perpetually or carelessly.
Color schemes have existed for hundreds of years, but Newton’s and Goethe’s color wheels are two of the most famous.
Color harmony in photography is the combination of colors to make an appealing, effective shot. These “harmonies” are established color combinations based on their position on the color wheel, together they create a pleasing balance of colors.
Complementary colors are those that are precisely opposite of each other on the color wheel. Blue and yellow are examples of complementary colors, as are orange and green. These colors are “complementary” because they complement each other nicely, resulting in a high-contrast and colorful effect, especially when utilized at full saturation. In photography, use complementary colors to bring attention to a focal point.This is an excellent scheme for creating a strong visual impact and displaying vibrant colors. The complementary colors of red, for example, are green and blue (depending on the exact red hue), and the complementary color of yellow is purple.
An analogous color scheme features three colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. This is an excellent arrangement for landscape and wildlife photography to highlight subtle contrasts in tones and hues with vegetation, animals, or flowers. Analogous colors are generally soothing to look at since they lack the dramatic contrast of the complementary scheme.
They are made up of one dominant color (typically a primary or secondary color), one supporting color (usually a secondary or tertiary color), and a third color that is either a combination of the two first colors or a pop of color.
Three colors are evenly placed around the color wheel in triadic color schemes. Because of the use of three opposing colors, these images are frequently highly vibrant. A triadic color scheme, for example, consists of three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Every fourth color in the circle is used in the triadic color scheme, leaving three colors between each color. In the photo, you can use all three hues, but combining the two will also work. If you know how to employ a triadic color scheme effectively in your images, it looks harmonic and balanced. Although these colors appear to be more expressive, they will not draw attention away from the subject. On the contrary, it is an excellent method of engaging the audience.
Every monochromatic color scheme is a tone, shade, or shadow of the same hue.
Monochromatic hues are created by varying one color. A monochromatic color scheme can be created with any color. For example, mixing white with red results in pink. Maroon is created by mixing black and red. This results in a monochromatic color scheme of pink, crimson, and maroon. To create a quiet and serene design, use monochromatic colors. It is used in black and white photography to simplify a shot. When visual distractions are removed, there is a greater focus on composition or texture. Check out this monochrome themed shoot.
This combines four colors using the triad concept, but instead of a triangle, it uses a rectangle. However, there is only one prevailing color in this scene. The technique of connecting colors in a rectangle allows you to create warm and cold hues by combining orange and red, green and blue, or green and red.
Additional color schemes to note include
Neutral color scheme. Color is neutralized by combining it with complementary colors. This scheme, on the other hand, only includes beige and brown colors.
Achromatic color scheme. It is based on shades of mixed black with white and gray colors. The terms achromatic and monochromatic are frequently mixed up. The achromatic scheme indicates that only neutral colors are employed. Black, white, and gray are examples of neutral hues. On the other hand, a monochromatic color scheme means that designers employ different tones of the same color.
Other complex schemes are the square, split complementary, and tetradic schemes.
Understanding color wheel concepts will help you develop your photographic style and encourage you to experiment with color in photography.
Best color schemes for photoshoots
One of the most significant aspects of your design is the color scheme. As a result, the process of selecting a color scheme can become agonizing at times, with the fear of making a mistake and ruining everything taking precedence over the desire to create. We tend to overthink things or get carried away by the technical side of things and not give it enough thought.
There’s no denying that finding the perfect mix of aperture and shutter speed is critical, but is that all there is to it? Is there something else that makes a photograph genuinely memorable?
It is also important to know that there’s no defined standard for the best colors. According to our explanation on color theory, here are some of the best color combinations. Popular Complementary mixtures:
- Orange and Teal
- Red and Green
- Blue and Orange
- Yellow and Purple
- Black and White
- Olive and White
- Navy Blue and Orange
- Blue and Pink
The key to creating a beautiful color palette is knowing how to arrange colors together. Start with a base, neutral color. Simple, more natural-toned colors tend to match well with just about any other color you pair with it. Consider shades of beige and off-white as a start.
Other complex mixes include:
- Jewel tones: Emerald, Dark Blue, Mustard, Brown, Dark Red
- Dark Red, Cream, Brown
- Dark Orange, White, Olive
- Blue, Olive, White, Khaki
- Rust, Slate, Cream, Brown, Olive
- Gray, Black, White, Brown
Tips and tricks to get the best color quality
By using the following tips for choosing the best colors to have in your images, you will be able to rest easy knowing your pictures will turn out well.
Since colors are widely applied in photography to communicate emotion and sentiment to viewers, it goes without saying that certain colors are associated with distinct emotions, and they frequently elicit a corresponding response from the audience. This color psychology might be useful when choosing complementary colors for your photographs.
The color blue, for example, is connected with stability and serenity, whereas the color orange is associated with warmth and enthusiasm. So, if you use these two colors as complementary colors in an image, you will be contrasting the calm of blue with the warm of orange, a striking combination that provides you with a lot of options.
There are also complementary color schemes that we have been taught to connect with particular holidays, such as red and green for Christmas and orange and black for Halloween. These complementary color schemes may be useful if you’re developing a holiday-themed shoot or campaign. Still, you may want to avoid them if you don’t want to confuse a customer who isn’t interested in Christmas hues. Keep in mind our emotional responses to color so that you can experiment with complementary colors in a purposeful and thought-provoking approach.
Use One Complementary Color as focal Color
Instead of giving complementary colors equal importance in your photographs, pick one to be the lead color and another to be the accent color. Use a modest amount of the accent color to make it stand out against the complementary hue. You’d be amazed how little of the accent color is required to achieve a pleasing contrast. This will ensure that your photographs are balanced and intentional.
To balance out the composition, you may use purple as the main color and yellow as an accent. Alternatively, you may use green as the primary hue with red accents to avoid giving the image an overwhelmingly Christmas or festive feel.
Use The Color Wheel To Obtain Contrasting Colors
Understanding the color wheel is useful for using color efficiently in photography. This is an excellent tool for demonstrating the fundamental concept of how different color combinations interact with one another. You can resort to color generators, they can help you pick colors that match your main theme or color. One of the best out there is Coolors.
Find a Vibrant Color
A pop of color is a vibrant splash of color that contrasts with the other colors in a scene.
Including a pop of color in your image will have a tremendous impact since it creates a strong focal point that immediately draws the viewer’s attention. Yellow and red are two eye-catching colors.
Keep an eye out for neutral-colored settings with a burst of color in them that you may incorporate into your composition while you’re taking images.
Brightly colored backgrounds offer excellent backdrops for your photographs. Consider using a colorful wall or building as your image background if you can find one.
Recognize Dominant And Receding Colors
Warm hues, such as red, yellow, and orange, are dominating in photography. Because they reach our eyes before the cooler colors, these colors are called dominant. Cooler colors, such as blue, green, and purple, are known as receding colors. The warm colors are prominent because they draw your attention first, allowing the receding hues to fade further into the background. Using dominant and receding color combinations, you can provide visual depth to an image.
Color can be used in compositions that follow the Rule of Thirds.
The rule of thirds is a compositional tool that divides a scene into three horizontal or vertical sections or a combination of the two. To make employing the rule of thirds more convenient, enable the grid overlay in your camera options, which will provide you with a visual guide to help you line up the objects in the image.Divide the landscape into thirds with horizontal color or pattern blocks to create a dramatic and well-balanced image. The rule of thirds applies horizontally and vertically and is not restricted to the use of color. However, combining this compositional tool with color can be a lot of fun and rewarding.
Even technically flawless shots might not always elicit emotions. Why do some photographers have a distinct vision and others do not? It is critical to have creative talents and originality for anyone who wants to capture images that catch the viewer’s attention. The easiest way to do that is by using the right colors.
Color schemes should always be related to the subjects you’re thinking about. Summed up, you chosen color must check these criteria.
- The colors chosen must follow logical laws and be in harmony with one another.
- The number of main colors of your theme should be limited to three.
- Colors should be chosen with the targeted audience in mind.
- The colors of extra items should be consistent with the main design.
One of the most crucial criteria demonstrating a high level of professionalism is the color scheme and understanding it will help you go a long way in being more productive.
Check out this post if you want to know more about the psychology of color.
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