Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Use the Psychology of Color in Your Photography


To understand how colors affect the mood of your images and your viewer’s experience with your photography it’s important to understand the psychology of color. Colors often have different meanings in different cultures so I’m somewhat generalizing in this post. 

Colors also may have very different meanings depending on the context used. For example, black can be evil or sexy.  By using color psychology, you can send a positive or negative message in your image. Here are some basics.


ORANGE:
Orange is the color associated with fun, flamboyance, happy days and warmth. Like red, there is nothing calm associated with this color.



RED:
Red is the real attention getter. It is often where the eye looks first. It's associated with movement and excitement - think fast cars and motorcycles. If your subject is wearing red clothes they will appear a bit heavier so be careful! It is the color of romance – think red roses and Valentine’s Day.

Scanned film photo of my son







YELLOW:
Yellow is a cheerful attention getter. It is considered an optimistic color associated with laughter and happiness.



PINK:
Pink, like red, is also considered the color of romance. Pink is the color of love and gentle feelings and is the most calming of all colors.



BLUE:
Blue is one of the most popular colors. It is peaceful and tranquil. Maybe it’s because we see so much blue in our world with our blue skies and oceans.




GREEN:
Green represents nature and is the gentlest color on the eye. It’s a calming, refreshing color.



PURPLE:
Purple is feminine, romantic and mysterious. Use purple to lend an air of femininity, romance and mystery to your images.



BLACK:
Black is the color of power and sophistication. It can represent sexiness or evil. Depending on its use it can be a somber color that can easily overwhelm people emotionally. Black clothes make people appear thinner in photographs.




But sometimes black can be just darn cute:

Spontaneous smooching for my camera - Harley Davidson owners


Please leave comments regarding your ideas on the use of color. What colors are you drawn to? 


And, as always, please leave a photo in your comment box for all of us to share and enjoy. Click open your comment box, click on the + sign in the lower left corner and follow the directions. Click the uploaded thumbnail to view large.


Happy clicking!








64 comments:

Eileen Ludwig said...

Fun to look at color that way
My photo Thursday posting http://www.eileenludwig.com/capture-magnificent-grand-canyon/

Bec Owen said...

I loved looking at the pics in this post, Mari!  Utterly gorgeous!  I am always drawn to purples and blues, but then, all the other colors look beautiful, too...so many from which to choose...

Color Strategies said...

Love how you've shown us color in terms of compostion, context and color relationships.  Tons of misc. info out there about the meaning of color  which is essentially meaningless because it's just links and words - lacking context.

Savy1920 said...

Mary I love colors and these images reveal much more than colors... it reveals the personality of the photographer...

Rimly Bezbaruah said...

Thank you for sharing this Mari. This is beautiful!

http://rimlybezbaruah.blogspot.com/2011/10/shackles.html

Larry said...

Each picture here tells a story amazing. There is something about the timing of this post mind, only yesterday i was talking about getting myself a bike, for the first time in, oh 20 years, and that Honda .... mmmm give it to me!

Kriti said...

Hi Mari - you put everything in perspective for me. I often see these colors, feel the emotions but have never really put one and one together - I just love your clicks ....

Janaki Nagaraj said...

cool and colourful

Kara said...

What a fascinating article!  It definitely has me rethinking my neutral brown on beige home décor.

Luchismiles said...

I like many colours, but Blue remains my best colour :)

Michael Long said...

In Rest Homes, generally the walls are painted Pink,  very calming effect on the patients. 

Michael Long said...

Mari,  great post,  and wonderful photo's. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Absolutely stunning photo! I love pink roses :)

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I hear they paint the walls in some prisons pink and there's less fighting among prisoners. Thank you for posting your stunning pink rose - I love that bright shade. I also love the bokeh behind the rose.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Do you find most of your clothes are blue? Or are you surrounded by blue in your home?

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Actually brown is a great color, especially in decorating. It is the color related to stability and approachability. It’s also associated with things that are
organic and natural. Personally, I love brown in decorating - both my living room and family room are in shades of brown. Guess we think alike! :).
 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Glad you enjoyed!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Kriti - I'm glad you enjoyed this. I thought it would be a fun post.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I think my son would fight you for that one lol. I've always wanted a Ducati myself. d:) Red of course!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you, Rimly.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you for the lovely compliment!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I agree. I have another couple of posts coming up on using color. I think my Fine Arts major is starting to show :)

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Just when I decide a particular color is my fave I change my mind lol. Thank you for your comment.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Glad you enjoyed the post on color.

Jessica Mokrzycki said...

This was really interesting. What a great post. Thanks :)

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Glad you enjoyed!

Leah Griffith said...

Mari, I really enjoyed this article on colors. It all made perfect sense. I loved the photos...particularly the one on black;)

Rogueartist said...

A rainbow of color!  You are soooooo good!

Anna Sides said...

Interesting info Mari.  Thanks for sharing.  Will remember for future photos :)

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you for the compliment. What a beautiful pink rose! Thank you for sharing.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

So glad you found this interesting.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I asked the couple w/ the black motorcycle jackets to pose for me and the husband instinctively leaned over and kissed his wife on the cheek - lovely gesture!

Your photo is beautiful. I love the flamboyant orange leaves against the green ones. The blue water and reflection is wonderful!

Corinne Rodrigues said...

This a great post, Mari. I'm looking for a logo for my blog and I this really helped. Someday, I'll work on my photography skills which are presently pretty dismal. Although I must say I'm proud of this one one here: http://www.everydaygyaan.com/2011/10/this-moment-28-october-2011.html. Would love your feedback. 

Tat said...

I've been meaning to find out more about colours, thanks for the insights. I love the purple image!

wan maznah cooking varieties said...

hi mari. As usual, my eyes got glued
to these photos…oooooooooo especially the first one and the purple image. Don’t
have to travel far to snap that stunningly beautiful image…only need great
artistic  talent and photography
knowledge- one of which is colors. I learnt a lot on colors today


 Wow, did’nt realized your son is in motorbike
racing, no wonder you always go there.

wan maznah cooking varieties said...

hi mari,guest post? Sure, I feel very
honored to be able to do that, but not in december- January would be fine,
because a friend borrowed my camera now. I need to do it right, cant spoil your
beautiful blog ha ha. do tell me your specifications. i can submit 2 foodie photos. Have a great weekend. 

Ron said...

Mary - I love this post! We did a color study for a client a fews years ago to determine consumer reaction and interaction. There is indeed a psychology  to it ;)

Your art (photographs) is beautiful, and your advice is wonderful

Ron

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I really like that one! Love the reflection. Reflection of life!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Glad you liked the purple - that one was really fun. My niece loves to pose -  She lives so far way though

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Yes, for years into motorcycles - and also he raises and trains horses

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

That would be perfect. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Corporations spend tons of money on psychology of color. It's very interesting.

Martha Orlando said...

Your photos are simply amazing, Mari!!!
Blue has always been my favorite color, but I have become partial to pink (wearing it now) in the last several years.  It certainly is a calming color and it always reminds me of romance.  When my husband and I got married, I wore a light pink dress and our flowers were pink and white roses!

Thanks for the beautiful post!

Blessings!

Red Nomad Oz said...

Well ... I'm naturally drawn to RED and BLACK!  Hey - this is just like doing a personality test!!  Maybe it means I'm just a drama queen ...

Maybe that's why it's always a surprise to be drawn to stunning blues, greens and purples like those in your shots above!

Ravenmyth said...

 I love colour in photography...and to be honest it can be a drawing factor to me when I take a shot...being an artist and painter...I am very much drawn to the mood of colour and what it can bring to a canvas...depending on your subject...colour definitely has an impact on us, not unlike sound...it can bring up many emotions and feelings. I very much enjoyed your interpretation of colour within this post...and as always the photography is beautiful and magical....today I am drawn to the tranquility of the Blue and the Green...thanks for sharing this amazing work Mari...

I tried to load a picture again..it just does not work for me...

Rogueartist said...

Mari, please read my latest post about last night's silent auction to raise money for breast cancer.
Thanks!!!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Your wedding sounds beautiful! I love pink and white roses in a bouquet.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

When I was posting the colors I did feel like it was a personality test since they have those lol. Red is my fave color with yellow coming in second. But I wear mostly black - go figure. Glad you liked the other colors in my photos. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Sometimes your photos load. I got in touch with disqus and got some strange techie advice. They suggested people log in but didn't say how.  Oh well. I'm going to play with it myself.

But I'm glad you enjoyed the article. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Will do... headed there now.

Debra Elramey said...

That first photo, in all of its glory, was certainly an eye grabber ;-)  
Of course they're all fabulous.  Just tweeted this.  

cath said...

Color of any kind is what draws my eye. I favor blues, but love to feast my eyes on all colors. Which is why I traveled to a spot yesterday to photograph the reddest red barn I have ever seen. I love the photos you used as samples of colors. I always learn something new here, thanks. :D

Team G square said...

Superb writeup and apt snaps , loved the sunflower .

SyedAlfandiSyedMansor said...

I've always preferred the blue sky..will not even attempt to shoot without it..and I love the bold colors of insects and wildflowers..those intriguing patterns of colors on the petals or the creatures..

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Syed - you are a master of color in your photography and art!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Sunflowers always make me smile :D

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Glad you lean new info from my blog! 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you for the tweet! The first photo was taken of a giant paper flower in Mexico.

DangerousLinda said...

Hi, Mari! --

Thank you for another inspiring post!  I also think of color in my photos in terms of feng shui and research being conducted for 'healing art' in hospitals.  Here is a colorful piece of mine ;-)   

DangerousLinda said...

PS I also meant to tell you that your sample photos in this post are gorgeous and keenly illustrative of your points.  Well done!
 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Your attached image is stunning!! I love bright saturated colors. Perhaps because I'm a So. California transplant to the grey winters of the Pacific Northwest. I've read about feng shui but don't know much about it - the same with "healing art". I'm sure colors would play an enormous role in healing. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you!

Amy said...

I love the psychology of colour. I am always drawn to Red. It is so powerful and probably symbolises how I would like myself to be portrayed. Warm colours are always more positive and happy in comparison to Colder aka miserable colours. ;)

http://futurephoto.weebly.com/

Photography said...

I also need this great artistic talent and photography.  Such a every photos awesome, black is the color of
power and sophistication, especially i like yellow flower.