Advertising is a 200 Billion Dollar a year business . . . and most of it relies on photographs that
have emotional impact.
So the obvious question is; what is it that transforms a two-dimensional, piece of paper into a three-dimensional image that yanks at our heartstrings? Emotional intimacy is what touches people
and more often than not causes them to take action. Look at it this way, the worse thing a parent
can do to a child is NOT to let that child know they are loved. Like wise: a photograph that does
not evoke emotions or feelings in the viewer, has robbed the viewer. Your job as is not just to
“document” or “point and shoot”. Your job is to touch the hearts of those who have not experienced
what you have. Remember: what comes from the heart goes to the heart.
You have to realize that all art seeks to express emotion, and you as a photographer are also an
artist. No offense to craftsmen around the world, but they have a pattern, the results are always
known. If you connect “A” to “B” to “C” you have a clock (for example); you always have a clock,
there is no doubt in your mind that you are making a clock. The Artist on the other hand; may start
out looking for joy, but may end up with something that reminds us of sorrow or pain. Obviously,
not ever viewer will have the same emotions that you had when taking the photograph, but as long
as they feel something . . . that’s OK.
Color is often overlooked; or not talked about in great detail in the world of photography. Have you
ever noticed someone walking down the street with clothes that were loud and out of place? It almost gives you a headache just thinking about it. But why is that? Different colors invoke different emotions. Some are positive; some are negative depending on the viewer’ perspective.
Here are some Colors and their perceived emotional values:
- Red as Positive means: Sense of power, strength, action, passion, sexuality.
- Red as Negative means: Anger, impatience, violence, forcefulness, and revenge.
- Yellow as Positive means: Caution, brightness, intelligence, joy.
- Yellow as Negative means:Criticism, laziness, or cynical.
- Blue as Positive means: Tranquility, peace, love, comfort, harmony.
- Blue as Negative means: Fear, coldness, depression.
- Orange as Positive means: Courage, confidence, warmth, energy
- Orange as Negative means: Ignorance, inferiority, slowness.
- Purple as Positive means: Royalty, sophistication, religious.
- Purple as Negative means: Bruised, beaten, foreboding.
- Green as Positive means: Money, health, nature, growth and soothing.
- Green as Negative means: Envy, greed, guilt, and jealousy.
- Black as Positive means: Dramatic, classy, committed, serious.
- Black as Negative means: Evil, darkness, death, and coldness.
- White as Positive means: Pure, fresh, goodness, heavenly.
- White as Negative means: Blind, cold, bitter, and distant.
If you want to understand emotion in photography, you need to understand color as an emotion. If
you’re ready to take your work to the next level, try shooting 40 shots of each of the colors listed
above. The subject matter does not matter, but you must shoot half those shots as positive and half
as negative. Trying to create emotion in photography, often means getting inside your viewers head. Different people have different life experiences, thus they view the world differently. If you want your work to reach as many people as possible, you have to be able to view things from as many different perspectives as possible. Take the challenge to see if you really understand color. Once you do, your world of photography will never be the same.