Making Great Color Photos

Prickly pear against a blue sky in Mildura, Australia.

A long time color enthusiast I’ve really enjoyed working in black and white over the last year or two. I’m not sure what percentage of my photos are black and white, but it seems like about a third of the images I publish end up rendered into black and white these days.

An Exploration Of Color

When it comes to color photography I’m of the opinion that your images need to be, at some level, about an exploration of color. After all, color is an element of composition.

Here are some basic points to consider when it comes to making better color photographs.

  • Should the colors in an image be highly saturated or pastel?
  • Should the Hue (i.e., the color of the color) of a piece of red fruit be relatively pure in color or should it move towards, for example, magenta or yellow?
  • Should the luminosity (i.e., brightness) of a particular color be brighter or darker than that of adjacent colors?

Color Design In Photography

There’s the colors that are presented to us when making the photo and then there’s the way we interpret those colors, individually and in relationship to each other, that needs to be considered.

And of course there’s the color of the light and the color of the shade and how that effects the rendering of subjects in those parts of your photo.

Color photography is, by far, the most popular form of photography. To make better color photos it’s important to consider the colors within the scene you’re photographing, their relationships towards each other and how moving those colors in one of several directions, during post processing, can effect the visual impact of the photograph.

It’s not enough to simply make a photograph that just happens to be in color. Let color be one of the primary forces that drives the choices you make in relation to subject, lighting, composition and post processing. If you do the quality and emotional impact of your color photography will improve significantly.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru