How to Make Better Color Photographs

I love color, even though I wear all black.

Why color?

To perceive color is human. We need to perceive color to survive.

Red is the color of blood, cherries, strawberries. Red is danger or food.

Blue is the color of water and life. Blue calms us.

Gold is socialized to be of value. It certainly is shiny, so it attracts us.

Green is also a color of life. Verdant pastures. Green trees of life.

There is a whole psychology of color.

Just consider:

Why are certain animals, foods, or things in nature colored the way they are?

Then consider how humans re-appropriate color.

Why are all fast food restaurants red and yellow? The color of anxiety, fear, and potential gain.

Why is white a symbol of purity and black of death? Why do some societies wear all white to a funeral, instead of all black?

Just ask yourself more questions about color.

1. Shoot color JPEG

Practical tip: shoot color JPEG. Why? The colors that come out of your camera processed in JPEG often look better than processed raw files. Whenever possible I recommend shooting RAW + JPEG.

Camera companies spend millions of dollars in research and development to make their JPEG color images look good. Why not just use JPEG?

Personally I love the color JPEG images from Fujifilm cameras.

If you shoot with a smartphone, use VSCO and the A6 preset for a film Kodak Portra 400 look (which I consider the best looking color film). Buy FILM NOTES for inspiration.

Also read: Why you should shoot JPEG.

2. Don’t make good photos; make colorful photos

As an assignment, spend the entire day not to make “good” photos, but colorful photos.

NYC, 2016

It’s so simple: when you’re shooting, intentionally look for colorful things that catch your eyes. No black and white.

Ask yourself,

Will this look colorful, or not?

3. Shoot the rainbow

An assignment from STREET NOTES: shoot the rainbow.

For one day only shoot the color red. Next day only the color blue. Then work your way through the rainbow. Then after 7 days make a project called “Rainbow” and only show your most colorful photos.


Taste the rainbow.

The world is beautiful and colorful. Why not try to capture some of that beauty?

NYC, 2016



Color Photography

Learn to paint with your camera:

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