Color is all around us. As beautiful as black and white can be, color gives us variety and sometimes, unpredictability. But funnily enough, it’s also easy to take it for granted.
Over time, I’ve come up with a few exercises to keep color at the forefront of my mind. One of these exercises is to focus on photographing a different color each day. It’s great for keeping your photography fresh and training your eyes to look out for new photographic opportunities.
Color may make up the majority of our world, but photographing it might not be as easy as you think. Sometimes the abundance of color can be overwhelming, and sometimes it’s hard to find the color you’re looking for at all! Before taking up the challenge, grab a pen and paper. Write down a heading for each color and list as many different things you can think of under each. Sometimes it’s even worth Googling specific color schemes, just to give you some ideas of what to look for.
Next, designate a day for each color you would like to photograph. And it doesn’t have to be the generic gamut of colors either. Why not try looking out for a more pastel pallet? Soft pinks, greys, and blues make wonderful, atmospheric photographs. More earthy colors like oranges, browns and dark greens are great colors to keep a look out for in Autumn.
Look for bold colors…
Humans have evolved to seek out bold coloration. Deep, saturated colors catch the eye and pull the viewer in for a closer look. A bold color scheme emphasizes texture and shape, especially within a limited color pallete.
And a softer color pallete…
Color photography doesn’t always have to be about a bold color scheme. Subtle or almost monochrome color schemes emphasize detail and lend a softer atmosphere to a photograph.
Pastel photographs are best taken during cloudy or low-light days to minimize shadows for a more even-toned image.
Why not both?
The opportunity to combine both soft and bold colors doesn’t happen frequently, but you’ll know when it does. Combining the two color schemes creates a dynamic image where bolder and softer colors reinforce each other and bring the image together.
Color can accentuate camera movement, and movement can accentuate color. It’s a well-loved dichotomy that is great for abstracted imagery.
Try taking photographs out a moving car window or bus. A slow shutter speed in the late afternoon will allow enough light to create a softness of color.
Colour has the power to illuminate detail, adding to the depth of a photograph overall. In a good image, color is the cherry on top – the final pop of color to resolve your photograph.
Look for color in unusual spots
Like I mentioned before, finding your selected color of the day may prove surprisingly tricky. Focusing on red one day will take you on a completely different journey than if you were looking for blue subjects.
Try looking in less frequented locations for unusual colors and patterns. Or take a drive and explore a new location altogether. Changing your perspective or focusing on compositional techniques like leading lines and texture can help get those creative juices flowing.
While color is all around us, it’s easy to take for granted. Simple exercises like focusing on photographing a particular color each day help keep your practice fresh and unique.
Keep your eyes peeled and don’t be afraid to explore, color often reveals itself in unexpected and fascinating ways!