Images are powerful in that they can be crafted so precisely as to convey any given message, illicit certain feelings, or poke at specific emotions from the viewer. Aspects of photography that help with this are colors, brightness, exposure, saturation, vignette, and many others. As a photographer learns more and more about their equipment, software, and subjects, they can learn how to manipulate these elements in order to create the desired effect when viewed.
Colors are perhaps the biggest player in photography and photo manipulation. Colors can be worked on and altered in order to enhance certain areas of a scene, divert attention from other areas, or change the dynamic of an entire photo.
Different colors have different effects and color psychology is the study of how the presentation of certain colors can influence human emotions. Humans tend to associate colors with emotions or feelings, so a good photographer can use this to their advantage.
For example, colors closer to red on the color wheel are “warm” colors and those closer to blue are “cool” colors. These aspects of color can help when, for example, a photo is taken in the snow versus a photo taken on the beach. The snowy photo would benefit from an enhancement of blue colors so the viewer associates the cool colors with a cold setting. Check out this example, where the left side of the photograph enhances cold colors and the right uses warm colors:
This same thing applies to the beach photo. Warmer colors do well here due to the summery feeling that people feel when thinking about the beach. Take a look at this photo and try to imagine which side feels warmer.
These photos really show how much you can use color to manipulate photographs and enhance the desired feelings they can produce. Attention to these things will surely be beneficial to you as a photographer.
Aside from the color temperature aspect, color choices can go a long way. Different audiences may be attracted to certain colors or palettes. If a photographer has to do a shoot for a client that sells clothes targeted toward an audience that desires individuality and standing out, it may be best to choose colors that are less common in current fashion. Maybe have your subject wear a bright colored outfit as opposed to a drab, monochromatic one. The bright colors will attract the eyes of the desired customer. On another side, an older audience might prefer a mature-looking color scheme, with more calm, muted colors. Low vibrance can help if you’re trying to convey a message of calmness and order, for example.
Learning how to manipulate your photography is paramount. Pressing the shutter button is one thing, but really taking advantage of your knowledge, tools and artistic elements within a scene is what separates a good photographer from a great one.