Creating vs Recording Photography Series – Part 4:

Color is all around us, whether we’re in the mountains witnessing a sunrise from East Fork Overlook on the Parkway or sitting in front of our computer monitors. Human beings are hardwired to respond to color. As photographers, to pay attention to and understand the powerful meaning of color used in our images is taking a giant step toward connecting emotionally with the viewer.

Previously, we stated that “color may be the most emotionally impactful tool visual artists have at their disposal.” A photographer who wants to move up to the next level, will benefit by understanding and controlling color. Here is how to consider the use of cool colors, green, blue and purple, to communicate with the viewer. (In our last blog, “How Colors Make Us Feel – Warm Colors,” we discussed how warm colors impact the viewer of an image.)

“Of all God’s gifts to the sighted man, color is holiest, the most divine, the most solemn.”

– John Ruskin

Cool Colors –

Green – Consider green to be the bridge between warm and cool colors. It’s the most balanced of the colors and represents nature, stability and prosperity. It’s a symbol of freshness, rebirth, health and new beginnings. Green is easy on the eyes, therefore creates a sense of calm, and it can be used to create a balance in an image. Think of the balance between complementary colors – red and green. Red is stimulating, while green is calming.

(For more information on complementary colors, read April’s blog here.)

Blue – Blue causes a chemical reaction in the body that creates a sense of calm. It can evoke not only a sense of calm, but spirituality, serenity, security and trust. Blue is an inviting color and actually lowers blood pressure. It’s also an appetite suppressant. (You may not want to paint your kitchen and dining area blue if you host a lot of dinner parties.) The vibrancy of blue has a more drastic impact than other colors. A bright, light blue sky in the morning can feel refreshing and set a carefree mood, while too much dark blue can make the viewer feel somber and disengaged.

Purple – Shades of purple can be dramatic in their impact on feelings. In general, purple feels like wealth, royalty and creativity. It also conveys romance, luxury and mystery. Lighter shades, like lavender, feel romantic and spring-like. Dark shades of purple create an added sense of mystery and turn romantic feelings to sensual. As purple is used in an image, keep in mind that its elegant and high-end appeal need not be over used. Even a splash of purple can change everything.

Coming up in our next issue…. How Colors Make Us Feel – Neutral Colors


How Color Impacts Emotions & Behaviors, by Alllison S. Gremillion

Twelve Colours & the Emotions They Evoke, by Jerry Cao 

Color Science: How Popular Colors Make Us Feel Different Emotions, by Danny Groner 

How Color Affects Our Mood, by Rachel Grumman Bender