A Quick Tip: Color Can Make (or Break) Your Images

Three things help establish the look and feel of an image: Composition, tonality, and timing.

But did you know there’s also a fourth factor that can make or break an image?

If you guessed color, then you’re way ahead of the game because most photographers have no idea about what will work best for them.

Let’s start with some basics regarding color. We’ll try to make this as black and white as possible (pun intended). 

architectural photography of building with people in it during nighttime
Photo by Mike Kononov

If you’re pivoting between color versus black and white, then you need to ask yourself a few questions first.

Questions like:

  • What kind of impact does color have on the image in question? 

For example, photographs with bright colors might want to think about why they should sacrifice that and how doing so improves the overall composition. This makes sense if the images are conflicting colors that contrast with one another in an aesthetically displeasing way – a problem easily remedied by a switch to black and white. 

  • Does your photography have prominent highlights and shadows? 

If you have a weak range of tonality in your image, then black and white will do it no favors whatsoever. 

Color, however, might be able to take a boring image and punch it up a bit. 

Beautiful purple and pink horizon sunrise in the sky in Cuxhaven.
Photo by davide ragusa
  • Another thing to consider is texture. Are there any interesting textures in your image? 

Any picture with a strong form or texture in it will look really good in black and white because this is emphasized. Eliminating color is one of the best ways to emphasize structural elements like this in a photograph. 

  • What kind of mood do you want to convey? 

Think about it. Color evokes feelings and passions such as bright red or deep purple. A lack of color is equally compelling. Drawing a viewer in to focus on differences between lights and darks can help add a touch of drama to your photo. 

There aren’t any rights or wrongs when it comes to photography as it is all a matter of taste at the end of the day. But there is a difference between a thoughtful photographer and the way his images are viewed. 

Consider color as one of the many ways that you as a photographer can direct or even somewhat control the reception your photograph receives upon viewing. 

white sand under blue sky during daytime
Photo by Jeremy Zero

For further research, look at the way the masters use color and make notes about what you see in the picture.

And, if you’d like a little bit more insight into color (among other things), then we’ve got something else you should check out. 

The Photo Tutorial eBook from our friends over at Picture Correct is loaded to the gills with tips, tricks, and insights into the art of photography. 

So, if you’re ready to further your knowledge of the craft, download the Photo Tutorial eBook TODAY!