Perfect Composure: Colour in Photographic Composition

Whilst a painter is using colour as soon as his brush touches the canvas and is able to build up the colour, tone and shade to exactly how he wants it, a photographer must be patient. He works with what is there, and although the perfect colour or hue might be there somewhere, the photographer might need to study a scene for some time and hunt it down.

Perfect Composure

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There’s More to a Photograph Than Lighting

Photographers are used to thinking about light and dark, shadows, shutter speeds and depth of field, but when it comes to composition, which is essential to a good image, colour really comes into its own.

Just as lines draw someone into your photo, so too does a pop of colour. It’s a subtle way of highlighting how important your subject is by making it stand out. Rather than add lots more ‘interest’ to your image, cut it back and make a simple colour statement.

A wedding photographer like Nick Rutter might find the bouquet or the bride’s shoes offer excellent opportunities for adding that splash of colour and leading the viewer’s eye into the image. As a Bournemouth wedding photographer, he might use the colour of the blue sea and sky, combined with the line of the pier, and a pop of white dress on a beach to draw all attention to the bride.

Picture Correct goes into more detail about understanding colour in your photography, and Light Stalking shows some beautiful examples.

Colour is not a new concept: intense colours make people sit up and take notice, which is why you see sunsets and flowers in people’s holiday snaps.

Mood Changer

Colour also has the power to set the mood of your shot. You’re often given ‘rules’ for interior design, like “don’t use blue in your living space, it’s too cold”, and the same ideas can be used in photography.

Using colour to grab attention is an easy way to incorporate it, but it can also be used to provoke feelings. Blue might be cold, but it can also be calming: think of wide expanses of sea or sky. Each colour elicits a different emotion, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Done well, colour used in composition can be a great way to get people really caught up in an image.

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