Pick a Color: Get Out of the Doldrums

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The curves of a car fender are accentuated by the panel seams and the light.

Have you ever experienced a stretch of time where your creative juices just don't seem to flow? You try to inspire yourself by looking at your favorite images you made in the past, you pick up some books with extraordinary photos, you go on line and browse every photographic site you know, but nothing gives you that inspiration. If this is the case, I offer you the same challenge I give my students and participants on my photo tours. Assign yourself a theme and use the gear that often sits in the closet.

A yellow garden rose's distinct shape leaps off the page when you eliminate all surrounding distractions.

One of my favorite themes is "Pick a Color." On five pieces of paper, write down a single different color. Put the papers in a hat and pick one. Your task is to go out and fill a memory card full of images that incorporate that color. Think big and shoot with your widest lens. Think small and break out the macro lens. Think close and dust off the long telephoto. Regardless of where your mind takes you, get outdoors and stick to the challenge.

Color is a great challenge in that every color has a mood with which it's associated. Emphasizing the mood should be high on your list of what you try to capture. Warm colors, especially red and orange, speak of heat, love, and passion. Conversely, the cool tone of blue suggests serenity, peacefulness, and somber feelings.

When photographing color, look for areas where the color stands out from a muted background. This allows the image to pop off the page. Look for areas of adjacent color. Do the colors compete or compliment the subject? If they compete, the dominant subject may get lost in confusion. Look for color harmony where many shades of the same color come together to form patterns or shapes. Work on shooting flowers, sides of buildings, articles of clothing, patterns of light, and even sections of ordinary household items. The number of potential subjects abounds. Go find them and get out of the doldrums.

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1 Comment

    Hi, Yes, I am in the doldrums and tried everything. Your idea sounds good and might give me some ideas.
    I am a self taught artist/hobbyist. Got paintings everywhere and not selling. Not that I am doing it for a living but it does keep me going if people like them.
    Maybe an all colour painting will be a challenge.

    Susan Layton

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