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Colors and Photography: What to Use, Where, & How

It’s no surprise that colors can have a dramatic effect on the mood and feeling of a photograph. Even primary colors photography, which is purposefully simplified to black and white with only primary colors, has a surprisingly emotional impact. But what does this mean for your own photography? What should you use color for in your photos? And how do you take advantage of it? In this article we will answer those questions as well as give some tips on getting the most out of your color palette!

Most Common Color Pairings

Generally speaking, primary colors photography is going to have a bold and vibrant feel. If you’re looking for that same feeling in your own photos, then the primary colors pairings are definitely where you want to start! They include yellow/purple (sunset photos), blue/green (forest shots) and red/yellow (sunrise or sunset). Those can all be great starting points for color palette inspiration.

Primary Colors In Photography

There are primary colors photography that you can take advantage of to enhance your own photos. Using primary color pairings in your shots is a great way to intensify the mood and feeling of the photograph by giving it an extra pop!

The primary colors pairings are definitely the place to start if you’re looking for a bold and vibrant look or feel.

Yellow, Blue, & Red Photography

Another primary colors photography that is often used in photos is yellow/blue/red. This can be found in many places, but most commonly at sports games! It’s a great way to add a pop of energy into your photograph without going overboard with it. For example: A sunset photo might not need any added color beyond its natural use of primary colors photography , but something from inside an arena would do well with some extra contrasts! In this case either red or blue could work well – depending on what mood you want the viewer to get out of the image. If it’s more energetic, then the primary colors photography of red would be best. If it’s meant to look more calming and quiet – blue might work better.

Secondary Colors In Photography

Secondary colors are a great way to add some more subtlety into your photos. This can be really helpful if you want to bring attention to a specific part of the photograph or if you’re going for an overall calming feel. In general, orange and green work well together as do pink and purple.

This is particularly useful when correcting color casts in pictures. Shadows have a propensity to be somewhat blue. By adding yellow to the shadow tonal range, we may counteract this without affecting the entire photo. Similarly, if we have a red sunset sky that looks too bright, we may add cyan to highlights to balance it out. Images that mix red with cyan or green with magenta are extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable to look at, but blue and yellow usually go well together. Consider how many sports teams compete in blue and yellow!

Complementary Colors In Photography

Complementary colors in photography are another great way to add some extra interest into your images. This is when you have two colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. When placed next to each other, they really pop and create a sense of tension or excitement. Some complementary pairings include red/green, orange/blue and yellow/purple.

This can be a great way to capture attention and lead the viewer’s eye around the photograph. If used sparingly though, it can also be a very effective way to highlight certain aspects of an image!

Analogous Colors In Photography

Analogous colors in photography are found right next to each other on the color wheel. This is when you have three primary colors Together create a certain mood or feeling within an image. They’re typically best paired with one another, but sometimes using two of them can be helpful too!

Some examples include yellow/green (spring), blue/purple (navy) and red/orange (sunset). These pairings tend to work well together if trying to get that same energy across multiple elements of your photograph at once. It’s also great for creating contrast between objects without clashing too much – something that complementary colors photography isn’t always so good at doing!

Tips For Using Colors In Photography

Now that you know a little bit more about color in photography, it’s time to put it into practice! Here are some tips on how to use colors in your photos:

  1. Use primary colors photography for a bold and vibrant look or feel.
  2. Add secondary colors for a more subtle effect.
  3. Use complementary colors sparingly for maximum impact.
  4. Try analogous colors together for an energetic feel.
  5. Correct color casts with secondary colors.


There are a lot of different things to consider when it comes to using colors in photography. By understanding the basics though, you’ll be able to start experimenting and finding what works best for you and your images! Play around with primary, secondary and analogous colors – and see which ones create the mood or feeling that you’re going for.

Put these into practice the next time you go out shooting and see what kind of results you can get! Experimentation is key when learning about any new concept – so have fun with it!