Become Professional in Color Photography

a photographer with his camera

Ever wondered how colors can affect the photos you take in color photography?

Well, here I am to show you these effects by teaching 12 hacks. 

Gradually, with the development of light-sensitive color combinations, the color photography industry became popular. Although many people still prefer Black and white photography, color photography also has its fans.  

I am a fan of color photography. Because colors make me feel good. For as long as I can remember, I have been trying to apply colors not only in photography but also in my surroundings.  

Indeed, the world around us is full of colors, understanding and using these colors in photography helps you to capture impressive photos.

We think and feel through colors. “color is a power that directly affects the soul” said the painter, Wassily Kandinsky. So color is a collection of visual information and a powerful tool for expressing emotions in images.

Before entering the category of the effect of color in photography, let’s learn more about colors:

The theory of Color Wheel

According to Isaac Newton’s theory, the color wheel consists of three primary colors, Red, Yellow and Blue, that are not obtained by combining any color.

color wheel

So, from the combining primary colors with each other, orange, green and purple are created, which are secondary colors.

In addition, from the combination of primary and secondary colors, tertiary colors are created.

primary colors of color wheel
secondary colors of color wheel
tertiary colors of color wheel

Also color modes, including: 

•Hue: The name of each color. 

•Saturation: The intensity or purity of a hue.

•Value: Specifies the relative degree of darkness and lightness of the hue.

•Shade: A hue produced by adding black.

shade of red color

•Tint: A hue produced by adding white.

tint of red color

•Tone: A hue produced by adding grey.

tone of red color

In this cycle, colors are important separately and their relationship with each other is also important.

The color relationships in the color wheel:

•Complementary colors: Colors sitting across from each other on the color wheel.

complementary mode of color wheel

•Analogous scheme: Colors that are next to each other in the color wheel.

analogous mode of color wheel

•Triadic scheme: Colors that are in the color wheel at the same distance from each other at three points.

triadic mode of color wheel

•Tetradic scheme: In this color scheme, there are four colors that complement each other in pairs.

tetradic mode of color wheel

•Monochromatic scheme: Colors from the same family are said to have only different tones and shades than each other.

monochromatic mode of color wheel

•Square scheme: Colors that are in the color wheel at the same distance from each other at four points.

•Split-complementary scheme: In this color scheme, one color and two adjacent colors of complementary colors are used.

Moreover, the color wheel is divided into warm colors ( red, orange, yellow) and cool colors ( green, blue, purple). 

Warm colors convey more emotion and can be chosen as the subject of photography, in contrast, cool colors have calm and are used more in the background of the image.

warm and cool color spectrum

The effect of color in photography

Now that you know the colors, you can use it as a key element in photography and convey your emotions to your audience.

Are you ready to drown?

1.Get to know better

As I said before, knowing the color wheel and the relationship of colors to each other in this cycle is important for taking color photos, and in fact this knowledge is the first and easiest hack.

2. Using the dominant color

In this hack, instead of using multiple colors, you can choose one color as the dominant color that covers all your framing and place your main subject among that dominant color.

In this way, due to the lack of contrast and color density, the focus of the audience is not lost and there is no confusion.

parrot with blue, red and green feathers

3. Isolate the dominant color

In this hack, by changing the framing and the angle of the camera, you fill the photo frame with the dominant color and thus you have a simple combination in your framing. After placing the subject in this simple frame, the subject can be easily identified.

Therefore, it is necessary to photograph a subject from different angles in order to find a suitable frame that can enclose the dominant color.

colorful chameleons

4. Specify the subject

In fact, the colors around the subject can be the best guide for recognizing the subject. “Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun” siad Picasso.

Sof these colors are not monochromatic, colors should be selected that are related to each other in the color cycle.

For example, in the photo below, the cool colors around the subject direct our view towards the mountain.

brilliant mountain among the forest

5. Find the emotions

Human minds and thoughts are different from each other. Therefore, in the face of an image, every human being may have a different perception.

These different perceptions make the transmission of emotions through color challenging. In fact, every color contains a positive feeling and a negative feeling.

Like some of the colors below:


Positive feelings: 

power and excitement

Negative feelings:

Violence and impatience

forest with red leaves


Positive feelings:

Warmth and confidence

Negative feelings: 

Weakness and ignorance

sea wave at the sunset


Positive feelings:

Brightness and pleasure

Negative feelings:

Laziness and pessimism

a man with yellow smoke


Positive feelings:

Growth and health

Negative feelings:

Jealousy and greed

cascading amongst green plants


Positive feelings:

Peace, calmness and comfort

Negative feelings:

Fear, cold and depression

alley with blue walls


Positive feelings:


Negative feelings:

Pain and anxiety

heavenly with thunder purple


Positive feelings:

Dramatic and original

Negative feelings:

Darkness and death

snowy and foggy road


Positive feelings:

Purity, freshness and goodness

Negative feelings:

Cold and distance

snowy farm

For practice, you can consider any color as a photography project and in each project, take 20 photos regardless of your subject and photography style with the color space of your choice, of which 10 photos are in positive color space and 10 photos are in negative color space.

Besides, this will increase your ability to use color to express emotions.

6. Create a balance

As I said before, warm colors attract more attention, while cold colors are used more as a background.

For this reason, warm colors are called progressive colors and cold colors are called regressive colors.

So, creating a balance between warm and cold colors in photography is very important and creates harmony in the photo.

color photography of girl with a red shirt

7. Pay attention to the background

Black and white colors can affect the color characteristics of a photo.

Therefore, if you put a certain color on a white background, the transparency and brightness of the desired color will be less. Conversely, if you put the same color on a black background, the color will be clearer and brighter.

As a result, pay attention to this point in advertising photos and portraits is very useful.

bag of oranges with white background
bag of oranges with black background

8. Use pop colors

If you consider a color for the subject that is brighter than other colors in the scene, this pop color will cause the viewer to pay more attention to the subject.

For example, in this photo, the use of pink flowers and nail polish of that woman, first of all, attracts our attention.

color photography of a cup full of pink flowers

9. Use the rule

The rule of thirds is the most common method for composition in photography.

In this composition, in the scene, two horizontal lines and two vertical lines are imagined that the subject should be along these lines or their intersection.

The rule of thirds of a desert
The animal’s skull is located at an intersection

This rule is not limited to using framing for the subject and you can also use it for color framing.

To do this, you divide the scene into three colored horizontal sections or three colored vertical sections.  As a result, the photo is balanced.

In this photo, the image is divided into three horizontal colored parts that mark the line between the sea and the area of ​​sunset and sky by colors.

color photography of sunset and sea wave

10. Know the right time

There is a term in photography called Golden Time, in which the lighting conditions are ideal for photography.

These times are usually 45 minutes before sunrise and 45 minutes before sunset.

Light during the day creates different color tonnage in the photo.  

For example, in photography of a landscape at sunset, you perceive a feeling of warmth due to the presence of orange, while in photography of the same scene at sunrise, due to the presence of blue, you may perceive a feeling of cold.

Therefore, it is important to set the right time in photography to create different emotions.

color photography of sunset in the mountain
color photography of a lantern next to the sea

11. Try simplicity

Minimalism is a style in which the artist puts simplicity in creating his work.

In this style, you have to eliminate unnecessary people and factors in the photo. Identify your subject clearly. In this way, you make it easier for the viewer to understand the photo. 

You can also focus more on the subject by placing more empty space around the subject, known as negative space.

So, in this type of photography, you can use many complementary colors to show the contrast between the subject and the background.

abstract color photography of a red house
minimal color photography of an apartment

12. Look outside

In street photography, finding a great background, such as a textured wall or a colorful showcase, and placing the subject in the background will help you capture a great photo.

color photography of an old man sitting in a cafe


As a photographer, you are responsible for conveying emotions and you have a few tools to do this so that you can show the message and feeling of an image to the audience.

Awareness of the effect of color in photography and using it is your most important tool. So, with a lot of practice, you can master this tool.

Thus, think about colors every day and how to use them more effectively in your work!

Finally, color in photography is important and practical in the attractiveness of the photo, the viewer’s attention and the transmission of emotions and concepts. 

As the famous photographer, Ernst Haas, said “Color is joy. One does not think of joy. One is carried by it”.

So, Do you think about colors?

It makes me very happy, if you share your experiences about color photography with me in the comments.

Make your life colorful!

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It's Nazanin. For me who loves the rainbow after the rain. What could be more beautiful than writing about colors ?! Well, I'm here now, in Dopely, to share my writings about colors with you and take you with me to the world of colors!

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