The Importance of Colour in Photography

The Importance of Colour in Photography. So why exactly is colour important?

The importance of colour in photography

Colour can help us tell visual stories with our photos and it can be used to communicate to the viewers of our photos on an emotional level. This is really important! I think that colour is one of the primary elements in a photo responsible for making it feel exciting, lively, mysterious or melancholic, sombre or even depressing.

Looking at photos most people will agree that they are not really concerned by the way they are composed or how good they are technically speaking, but they will definitely responds to an image that makes them feel something.

Ok, but how do we exactly use the colours in our photos to evoke emotions? It’s not like we can change the colours of a scene.

First you need to understand that the colours in a scene won’t stay the same, they will change depending on time of day and on the lighting / meteorological conditions. Light will change the colours of a scene tremendously, and when you understand how it does that, you will have some control over how the colours in your photos will finally look like! You can in a way directly control the colours by carefully choosing the time of day for your photos.

Look at the photo below, I intentionally chose to take this photo very late in the day, so that I can get just a hint from the beautiful sunset light and the nice sky getting darker. Taken in the middle of the day, this photo would have been uninteresting, flat and all the colours would have appeared “washed out”.

Over Kitzbuehel / Fujifilm XT-2 and Fujinon XF35mm F2.0 (c) Ivo Popov

Another example – this photo would have been quite less impactful if it was not for the amazing sunset light behind my subject. The soft colours make the whole image look peaceful, intimate and a bit mysterious at the same time. Would you have the same impact if the photo was taken in the middle of the day, under the harsh sunlight? Definitely not!

Sao Miguel, Azores / Canon 5D Mark III and Sigma 85mm F1.4

Can we control the colours in any other way in our photos? Sure, we can carefully choose our composition, so that we include only the colours that make the photo more impactful. Look at the photo bellow. I carefully chose my composition so that half of the photo shows the beautiful sunset light and half of it shows the sky getting darker blue.

I hope you have enjoyed this article for the importance of colour in photography. Want to know more? Please consider attending one of my workshops. More info you can find here: Photo Workshops in Brussels.