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Photography 101: A Pop of Color

Colors can stir emotions within us, tell stories, and transform our images. Today, use one color to add life or drama to your shot.

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The colors in our photographs are evocative and rouse emotions within us. Color can elevate a mundane image into something intriguing and meaningful, and can tell a particular story within the frame.

Consider this shot of a blue door in Malta:

blue door-malta-pop-of-color

The cobalt blue door and powder blue frame not only add a bright splash to an otherwise nondescript image, but also adds layers of story and perspective: Who lives in this building? What’s behind that door?

The color blue is whimsical yet strong. To some, blue looks and feels soothing and serene, but also cold and apathetic.

While other shades are eye-catching in their own ways, here, the blue works well. A red door might change the mood of the picture, signaling excitement or danger.

Today, pay attention to how color affects your images. Experiment with one color, and think about how to feature it prominently.

Tip: As you train your eye to look for color, keep it simple:

  • Lean toward one bold color against a neutral background, instead of several colors competing for attention in a scene.
  • Look for a strong color within a basic composition of uncomplicated lines — your pop of color will stand out more.
  • Continue to experiment with light and your POV as you shoot color-as-subject — the color may transform as you move.
  • Don’t ignore soft, pastel shades — colors like mint and pale pink can make statements, too. Try juxtaposing these with black and darker shades.
  • When in doubt, pair an accent color with white — you’ll see its impact immediately.

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