Shooting in color is exciting. It’s an opportunity to depict more than form alone allows. It’s an opportunity to communicate mood, meaning, and even give emphasis to certain parts of your composition.
Here are eight tips for shooting colorful photos, from our very own Moment team!
Tip #1: Go Get Lost
I look to mother nature for my biggest source of color. I revel in the beauty of our natural environment and strive everyday to see new nooks and crannies of our vibrant world. When i’m looking for inspiration, my natural inclination is to see how far removed I can get from the city. I’m not talking about driving and stopping roadside; i’m talking hiking boots and backpack. The further I can venture into the wilderness, the more at ease I am in my environment, and the better the shot.
Tip #2: Reading your Surroundings
When I’m out and about, my eyes are drawn to different subjects depending on my mood and the weather. My favorite time to capture colors is when seasons change—surroundings that you’ve grown used to suddenly change color and look so new and inspiring. When shooting, make sure to set the white balance true to the atmosphere you want to portray. If it’s a slow and gloomy day, I prefer a cooler white balance for darker, less vibrant colors. If it’s a rainy autumn day but I’m super excited about all of the new, colorful leaves, I’ll set a warmer tone for a happier mood.
Tip #3: The secret life of grids
I love shooting in monochrome -- creating images comprised of one color or different tones of the same color. I enjoy the limitation because it allows me to focus on the textural aspect of an image, emphasizing graphic shapes and details I might otherwise overlook. With this style, the photo can have a very homogenous appearance, so composition is everything. I like to think of the primary color as white space in my frame, and then I use one of the digital grids to position my subject and compose the shot.
Tip #4: I Spy
By Brian Cason
I love walking around my neighborhood to find colorful scenes. There’s something fun about exploring where you live with a specific goal. Sometimes I wander around with a few colors in mind and let my eyes drift, searching for them. When shooting color, there are two things I always look for: a punch of color that stands in contrast to its surroundings, and ways to fill the frame with multiple colors. These two approaches always make color the hero of the image.
Tip #5: Contrast in Nature
I tend to shoot more natural color schemes—perhaps it’s because I live in Seattle where we don’t have much color and we have a lot of beautiful outdoors. One of my favorite ways to play with saturated color is adding a pop of color in nature. Red (or orange) is complementary to the colors found in natural landscapes (mostly greens and blues). Complimentary colors provide the biggest contrast and immediately draw the eye. Have your subject wear or bring something red, and head outdoors to play.
Tip #6: Embrace Harsh Light
Many photographers chase after cloudy days because of the natural softbox effect. Those days create a nice soft light and easier conditions for shooting, but also desaturate colors. Sunlight equals saturation. When you embrace harsh light, you can create some very vibrant, colorful scenes. Harsh light will often cause your highlights to be blown out if you’re not careful. To avoid this correctly expose your highlights (usually the sky), then pull out the details in your shadows when you edit. In other scenarios, you may want to incorporate the blown out highlights for a very light and airy look.
Tip #7: Find Colors That Pop
BY Erica Simas
One thing that always captures my attention is a vivid color popping out of a neutral environment. Whether it be a car, room, or graphic wall, those vibrant subjects always make for the best photos because of their contrast to elements around them. The best way to create that color contrast is to stage the scene. Once you have your subject, try to compose the image around that central color. Pick neutrals that will let the subject shine. Sometimes a solid colored wall can become a fun backdrop.
Tip #8: When The Sun Dips
I really enjoy shooting video in the evening light. The colors are beautiful and the light is soft. Some of the most interesting colors I’ve captured with my phone have been while shooting in the desert. The red and orange tones take on a whole new look out there. A practical tip when shooting in the evening desert light is waiting until right after the sun dips behind the horizon. Just after the actual sunset is when colors really start exploding and the pinks/yellows are most vibrant.