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Photography and Color

Updated on June 26, 2013
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public domain. | Source

Words can be photographed in ways to show the meaning associated with each. Colors can also be photographed in pretty much the same way. Just like many words have a meaning , feeling or emotion associated with it, so do colors. Color symbolism has been used for many years to represent meanings in religion, cultures, concepts.

They have also been known to sometimes cause physical and psychological reactions; red seems to be able to raise some individual's blood pressure. Green or pink have been known to have a calming effect on some. Colors are also used and serve to send non verbal messages. Even with different cultures some colors have totally different connotative meanings and significance.

The color red is usually associated with love, passion, joy, warmth, anger, danger and even with the devil. It is also the color most often used to call attention towards something or someone. Although any color is good I have a tendency to gravitate towards anything that is red but you can do just about any other.

Representing the meanings associated with the color red should not be a difficult theme and photographic project to accomplish. Start with the easiest one for you such as love; images of red roses, red lips, a red dress, red satin sheets, an image of an artistic heart etc. Capture these images in traditional ways but add your own style and use various angles and perspectives.

Anger can be a little bit more difficult, but can be done; take images of fake bloodied items (use props), The red flashing lights of a police cruiser work well. Be creative such as painting a model's hand in bright red and taking a shot while the paint is still wet and the paint dripping. Remember that symbolism can be a powerful tool when correctly applied in your photographs.

Passion is another subject which should not be difficult. Take images of moist, lusciously painted red lips. Shots of sexy negligees, red off course, are prime examples of passion. A hand with red fingernails painted with a "moist" nail polish which is then draped across portions of a female form are quite good at demonstrating passion too.

To show warmth use a subtler shade of red, almost closer to brown than to red itself. Capture images of ambiance in which the glow of a fireplace is present, and even better, if you can add a couple that's embracing next to a fireplace while dressed in plush red colored clothing.

Try to use different shades of red; vermilion, crimson and scarlet are a few of the several shades of red as well as various strengths such a blood red.

Joy is clearly set by photos depicting some holiday themes such as in Christmas and Valentines. Other samples would be red candied apples, red lights at a carnival, red candies, red balloons.

To represent danger nothing works better than a red traffic signal, some traffic signs, and even red nomenclature like the ones used in machines and electrical equipment. Make some props if you need to like a fake stick of dynamite. Use your imagination to avoid being constrained by a lack of available subjects.

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CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication | Source
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licens
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licens | Source

Whatever color you choose to use in your photographic representations, it pays to conduct a little research to become aware of the different feelings and emotions as well as other significance that is commonly associated with each particular color, such as the green being associated with everything in nature, and the Internet is quite handy with this type of research. It will also be helpful for one to peruse various other venues where color is widely used and to look at some sample adds, magazines and others to acquaint oneself with the various uses of color and prevailing trends.

Be creative in how you showcase the colors, since this has always been a very popular theme in photography, the difficulty lays in using the same subjects to represent the same theme but doing in in an entirely new way and with creativeness. This is what will set you apart from others.

This theme is very adaptable to be used towards the greeting card market, the calendar industry, general photography publications, and as items to be sold as individual prints.

With practice you will soon begin to notice how the different shades of a color and the different variants of colors are affected by light and reflected it back, and this in itself is a great learning experience which aids one in their professional photographic growth.


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    • MichaelGallinger profile image

      MichaelGallinger 6 years ago from Detroit, MI

      I'm for red as well, interesting read.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      danfresnourban: thank you sir for your nice comments

    • danfresnourban profile image

      danfresnourban 6 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks for sharing this info on red. Blood is red, our lips are red, red is powerful. We are designed to react to red more than any other color. Very helpful information.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Actually red is the best color for advertising purposes, but you are right, anything flashing ..and!!!

      LOL thanks for your comments.

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 6 years ago from Central United States

      My personal favorite is green it works two ways also as it depicts nature and safety. The green light is a good example of safety.

      Thanks again for bringing something to my attention I was not aware of. I have always seen red as a bad color for advertising not realizing it can also depict good things.

      I do know

      I am right about red flashing lights they are always bad. When I see red flashing arrows above something asking me to sign anything I click away quick.

      My camera and camera case are red but I love those. I wonder if that is why that color was chosen.