Color Psychology Concepts All Photographers Should Know

Color psychology is one of the most important theories to understand as a photographer. But why is it such a powerful tool for influencing perception?

It will come as no surprise to learn how much color shapes our lives. The great thing for us photographers is that we can take advantage of color to make more powerful work. By knowing the meaning of particular colors and using them in the right combinations, we can make sure the decisions we make are complementing rather than detracting from our objectives. This week, psychology expert and author Nick Kolenda is back once again with another insightful video to help us master all things color.

The video starts with Kolenda talking about why color has meaning and what those meanings are. Some of these points may not be the biggest of revelations, but it's good to be reminded of why certain colors or tones have different connotations. For example, white is perceived as being light, and black has the opposite meaning. I particularly liked the point about how the degree of saturation in an image can alter someone's impression of its size and how this got me thinking about how I often lean towards more saturated images without really knowing why.

The video goes on to talk about choosing the best color schemes and the situations where monochromatic, analogous, and complementary color combinations should be used. All in all, this video is a fun and jam-packed look at color psychology with many key points photographers would benefit from knowing. Even if you don't apply these concepts to your actual images, these ideas could still prove valuable on websites, portfolios, or marketing material many of us make. The main takeaway here is that every color a photographer uses will come with its own connotation. By understanding what these are, we can take advantage of them and make better work.

What do you make of color psychology for use in photography? Do you already use these techniques? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment below.

Lead image by Sharon McCutcheon, used under Creative Commons.

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Paul Parker is a commercial and fine art photographer. On the rare occasion he's not doing photography he loves being outdoors, people watching, and writing awkward "About Me" statements on websites...

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