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What’s your favourite colour?

It’s one of those enduringly common questions. We all have our personal favourites (for me, teal).

But what about when it comes to colour in your photographs?

Using colour correctly ensures that attention is drawn to the right places and it can have a huge impact on the connection you make with your audience.

Having some basic understanding of colour theory and psychology and how to consider it in your photographs will go a long way to ensuring you have the most powerful image content that not only stands out but also resonates.


This journey begins with the colour wheel. It’s been around for centuries and if you want to better understand the relationship between colours and how they interact with one another then this is the place to start.

Now don’t worry – you don’t need to commit it to memory but it is helpful to be aware of the role it plays and how you can apply different theories to create different colour schemes.

There are numerous techniques that can be used to determine your colour palette of choice. Some of them include:

  • Complementary: colours found directly opposite one another, e.g. blue and orange, and when used together create an energetic vibe.

  • Analogous: colours found side-by-side, e.g. orange, yellow, and green, which creates a colourful, harmonious feeling.

  • Triadic: this approach uses three hues that are evenly spaced out across the wheel, e.g. blue, red and yellow. It forms vivid contrasts and balanced colour.


The science behind dominant and receding colour can get quite technical but ultimately it boils down to how humans see and create colour.

A dominant colour will typically hold its hue irrespective of its surroundings. It is a “visible” colour and our eyes tend to perceive them in the foreground of images. Primary colours on the colour wheel are usually characterised as dominant.

On the other hand, recessive colour fades more into the background and is usually registered in the mind after the dominant colour.

Recessive colours are often used as neutral colours that do not immediately draw attention. A key feature of them is that, when used alongside dominant colours, they can help add depth to an image.


This is one of the most important considerations. You may have already thought about this in the wider scheme of your personal or business brand, for example when considering your logo or the colour scheme used on your website.

It is a key element of any image content.

Different colours will create different reactions and you will want to consider this carefully with respect to your brand, audience and the message you wish to convey.

Here are some examples of different colours and their emotional reactions:

  • Red – energetic; passion; strength

  • Blue – cold; trust; balance

  • Yellow – creativity; happiness; optimism

  • Green – nature; growth; health

  • Orange – enthusiasm; vitality; confidence

  • Purple – spirituality; high-end; loyalty

  • Pink – compassion; love; calmness


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