Colour Psychology for Photographers

Colour is the essence of energy, excitement, mood and atmosphere in photography. But these things can be totally misread if you get your colours wrong. Welcome to a beginner’s guide on colour psychology for photographers.

What Will I Learn in This Guide?

  • What is Colour Psychology
  • Why is Colour Psychology Important?
  • How Do Colours Make Us Feel?
  • Colour Palette Examples

What is Colour Psychology?

Without getting too scientific about it, colour psychology is about how colours make us feel.

All colours have a relatable feeling based upon centuries of association and natural occurrence.

Choosing which colours in photographs can create a certain mood for a subject in the frame and also your audience looking at the photo.

colour psychology blog image colourful mind
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Why is Colour Psychology Important?

Using colour psychology correctly can enhance the feeling of an image with a strong message. It is another visual language that photographers use to make their audience react in a certain way. You can control the final feeling of a photo by using colours in the correct way.

But it is also possible to skew messages and make them unclear by not considering colour psychology. For example, using cold and dark colours in a newborn portrait conflicts the expected feeling of it being joyful and uplifting.

Audiences may not know if this incorrect use of colour is intended, or an accident, therefore rendering the message of the image muddled. While it’s sometimes fun to change the expected reaction of an image, it should always look intentional and stylised.

colour psychology blog new born baby on rug blue toned
colour psychology blog man looking sad in warm light

How Do Colours Make Us Feel?

As we said at the start, all colour psychology carries an associated feeling, sometimes more than one, but they all tend to be of a similar ilk. Let’s show you what some colours project and example images to back that up.

RED

Lust, Danger, Warning, Alarm

Man,And,A,Woman,Dancing,Salsa,On,Background

BLUE

Loyal, Formal, Business, Royal

colour psychology blog image 5

GREEN

Environmental, Refreshing, Healthy

colour psychology blog image green forest sunlight

YELLOW

Crazy, Exciting, Bold, Energetic

colour psychology colourful couple in yellow hat and sunglasses holding brushes

WHITE

Pure, Innocent, Neutral, Positive, Clean

colour psychology lady holding her baby in white room

PURPLE

Harmony, Peaceful, Relaxing, Soft

colour psychology person yoga pose balance overlooking sunset water

Colour Palette Examples

On top of combining complementary colours, it is important to research colour palettes.

If you want to include more than 2 colours, but still work together to create on universal mood, use a colour palette.

Check out below some of our custom combos and the moods they create.

Feel free to save these examples and use them in your editing as reference swatches.

colour psychology blog image 10

Summary

Fingers crossed this guide to colour psychology for photographers will help you appreciate colour in a different light. Remember to consider everything in your frame when shooting.

If you’re not able to change your colours in-camera then use that trusty HSL slider in Lightroom to make local adjustments and set the right vibe!

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The other challenge when shooting through glass is the tinting. Unfortunately, architects and designers didn’t think about us photographers when creating these skyscrapers.

Their windows are invariably tinted in some way to help with heating.

This means that some of your photos may have a green/grey tint to them.

It’s not the biggest issue as you can rebalance this tint in editing with the ‘tint’ slider for example.