1. Pop of colour
One of the colour strategies we mentioned on the last page was to use a pop of colour to drive a viewer's attention to your subject. We listed red as one of the most attraction commanding colours, but it really needn't be that. Anything that differs substantially enough from the background will work just as well.
Feel free to use the colour wheel to help you decide if you KNOW you will be going to a specific location, but don;t feel like you need to be a slave to it.
As an example - if you know you;re going for a walk in the woods, if you dress your children in bright warm colours - like red, purple, pink, orange or yellow, your children will stand out of the background immediately. But a bold blue coat - despite not being on the warm end of the colour spectrum will work as well.
If you're off to the seaside, or somewhere with a vast expanse of blue, consider yellows, oranges and pinks to help make your kids stand out.
2. Working with or against the background
Sometimes it's the background that you want to make a bold colour statement, at which point you have a choice - do you find a colour that will oppose it? Compliment it? or be neutral to it?
Let's consider a lavender field - a large block of a very definitive colour.
To show you how our perception of the colour contrast or harmony works with such a background, I digitally altered the colour of my daughter's dress in the image. The original is on the left, the altered colours are on the right.
- The original dress was a cool blue - selected so that it falls close enough to the lavender as to compliment it, but not so close as to hide my daughter. The colours work well together and while the blue stands out a little against the background, its only so that it leads to my daughter. We're able to appreciate the field and my daughter's expression.
- In the next photo, I pushed the colour towards the lavender hue. It's not exact, but enough to feel a little too matchy-matchy - that colour repetition works may enhance the lavender, but lessens the importance of my daughter there.
- When I turned her dress a pinkish red, she definitely stands our the most. But at the same time, our attention goes to the dress.
- The yellow dress repeats the tones in the path, but it actually contrast nicely with the lavender, without commanding too much attention from it.
- The white dress is the most neutral - it seems to highlight the girls expression more and provides a cool contrast for the beauty of the lavender. A more classic but lower energy look.
3. Peaceful pastels
Pastel colours are what we consider Hues of the original colour - that means they are created by adding white to the original colour.
By doing so, we remove the contrast and 'boldness' of the colour and create a deliberately calm environment in which to focus the attention on what our subject is doing or their expression.
The colours are not competing for our attention which firmly sets on the subject. No wonder it's a strategy often beloved by baby and newborn photographers - we don;t want anything to take us away from their beauty!
4. Colour repetition
A strtegy often emplyed by photographers is colour repetition - when one or myltiple elements in the frame pick op on the colour of the subject. The theory is that the viewers eye will be guided by from one of the colourful elements to the other, strengthening the visual impact of your subject.
5. Find a wall
A colourful wall is a great way to inject some colour into your photos. And when I say wall, I mean pretty much any large surface that can fill the frame - it needn't be urgan grafitti, it can be a colourfull wall of a house or a garage door or a structure at the playground.
When you find your wall, you have some composition choices - is the wall meant to just merely be a colour block background for your subject to stand out against? Remember, cooler colours are more likely to allow your subject to shine, bold saturated colours will dominate more.
BUt that's OK too because another strategy you could employ is to make the wall as much of a subject of your image as your child. If it's bold enough to stand out by itself - let it. If your child wants to interact with it - let them. If they want to mimic it - that's fine too.
From a composition point of view, if there is a discernible design on your wall, it's good to 'sqare' the angle of your camera so that you;re shooting directly 'at it' rather than shooting down, up or sideways ( unless the latter can create an interesting effect)
Consider if you want your subject to contrast or blend into the wall too - remember your colours!
6. Colour hunt - collage
This is a little project I would highly recommend you have a go at with your kids. Pick a colour at the start of the week and then try to spot it and capture it wherever you go, creating a collage / mood board at the end. You could make it the same exact colour or shades / hues of the same colour. Get your kids to help spot and photograph your chosen colour elements.