How to: Create a Color Scheme

I recently learned about color theory and how it affects images from my photo class and I wanted to share my knowledge with all of you. I did a shoot with the extremes of color using only the secondary colors purple, orange and green in my image. I made the color saturation and shade as similar as possible to create a cohesive and creative looking image but this is only the most dramatic of creating a color scheme. To make a color scheme I love using the website Paletton because it creates a color scheme for you depending on if you want complimentary, monochromatic, adjacent, triad or a tetrad color scheme. Most photoshoots try to have complimentary colors that cause the image to be more appealing to the eye. In this post, I will go over the psychology behind color to show you how color can affect your images.


Warm Tones

Warm tones evoke a more home-like and autumnal feel in your images. These images are often seen during the summer and fall months of the year because of the colors of nature. These colors such as red, orange, and yellow have been psychologically proven to evoke happier feelings in people.


Warm Colors

Red: Red has been seen as a very masculine and bold color that causes people to feel both romantic, angry and happy all in one color. Red is mostly used as an accent color because it is so dynamic. As a photographer, you want to stray from using a lot of red in your image along with other colors because red can easily distract the eye from your subject.


Orange: Orange is a color used in many Instagram themes because unlike red it is not overpowering but it still draws attention to the viewer. Orange evokes feelings of friendliness and kindness in the image and overall gives the image a very comforting feeling of being calm.


Yellow: Yellow is seen as the happiest color by many people. Yellow is associated with happiness, sunshine, laughter, and joy but too much bright yellow can be alarming to people. When working with the color yellow you as the photographer want to make sure you are working with a more subdued shade or simply limit the amount of bright yellow in your image.


Cool Tones

Cool toned colors have a very calming yet sad feeling to them. Cool toned colors are often seen as more feminine than warm-toned and have a varying spectrum of feelings surrounding them. Cool colors are also associated with winter and cleanliness.


Blue: Blue is the most common of the cool toned colors and the most widely liked by the public. The bluer your image is the higher chance you have of a person liking your image depending entirely on the color scheme. Blue is associated with calmness, spirituality, and trust which is why many companies use blue in their logos and most people’s favorite color is blue.


Green: Green symbolizes health, nature and new beginnings and it is also seen as the color easiest on one’s eyes because it is so prevalent in nature. Green is mostly used as a background color for your image in the trees or grass and is rarely used on a model. Incorporating a lot of green is amazing in landscape photography but lots of green in portraits can lead to feelings of anxiety or stress and cause the viewer to not focus on the subject.


Purple: Purple is the last of the main cool colors and is often associated with love, feminity, and royalty. Purple is often used as a soothing color because it is seen in sunsets and flowers. Purple is another color that should be used with a light touch because too much purple can be seen as overwhelming to the eye.


To further show this I edited this image with both cool and warm tones. As you can see the one with warmer tones has a more autumnal feel than the cooler toned image.



Neutral has a varying definition by who you’re asking. In the fashion community, a neutral would be a khaki, grey, black, white, brown, navy or denim as those colors go with and compliment almost everything. In photography, however, a neutral is when a color is simply lacking saturation or hues that will stand out to the eye. This mostly entails whites, blacks and brown shades as these colors are the most likely to lack color. Neutral colors will add a much more simplistic feel to any image that is very calming to the eye. A neutral color palette is often times seen in an Instagram feed like in Amanda Shadforth’s or Rachel Gulotta’s this can be achieved by desaturating the image, sticking to a very monochromatic color palette or simply converting the image to black and white.


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on color scheming and that it helps improve your photographic game.

If you would like to see the full sets of any of these images click the links below!

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How to: Successfully Shoot Water Portraits

Shooting images with an added element of water can present a whole extra set of problems. After a few tries and learning from my mistakes, I wanted to help you learn how to take beautiful portraits with water.


FOCUS: Since water is ever-moving it is best to make sure you’re focused on the correct subject so it may be better to manually focus if you have the experience. Autofocus might focus on the water instead of your model so you want to double and triple check that you are focused correctly.


SHUTTER SPEED: I recommend shooting on a very quick shutter speed instead of a slower speed. Again since water is constantly moving you don’t want the water to appear too soft in your images unless the water is the main focus of the images. Turn up your shutter speed and really make sure the water is as clear as you can make it.


COLOR SCHEME: Have your model wear a more neutral color and avoid patterns as this can distract from the main focus of the image is the water and portrait. In your images, you should always try to only have 3 main subject points. In the water, those subject points should be water, the model and one additional thing such as clouds in the sky or something floating alongside your model.


LIGHTING OUTDOORS: If shooting in an outdoor area such as a pool or the ocean make sure to shoot at a time when the sun is not high in the sky so avoid times from 11-4. I say this because water is a natural reflector and can cause excess lighting on your model’s face that isn’t anticipated. Make sure you’re constantly checking your meter reading because the lighting conditions when shooting in water change quickly and drastically.


LIGHTING INDOORS: If shooting indoors with water such as in a bathtub I recommend using studio lighting of some sort if you have limited natural light due to a small window. I personally have always used studio lighting because I feel as though it brings out colors better and makes your image look a lot crisper than natural light might. Also since bathtubs are so white the studio light can help make sure it’s very bright and not muddy. I have shot natural light before and it’s a little bit harder to control and maintain the ISO I want to not get grain in my image.


LENS TO USE: I recommend using a 24-70mm lens when shooting bathtub portraits or a 35mm lens because you don’t have a lot of space to move around so a longer focal length lens will work best in these scenarios. When shooting outdoors I recommend a 50mm portrait lens so you can get the nice bokeh behind your subject and it creates a sharper feel than a lot of other lenses I’ve shot.


CREATING A MILKY LOOK: Firstly you should fill the bathtub almost all the way with warm water so your model doesn’t freeze! Next, add a gallon of nut or soy milk or as much milk as you need before it becomes a fairly thick consistency. I would say add enough so you can still see your hand if it’s about an inch under but enough so you can’t see it if it’s more than 3 inches into the water.


POSING: Water is ever-moving so evoke that in your model, direct them to move with the water or stay perfectly still to allow for contrast. I personally like to pose women with more graceful and moving poses while I pose men with a more sedentary pose to contrast with the water.



PROPS: In the pool or ocean I don’t recommend using props because I think it distracts from the overall landscape. When shooting in a bathtub I recommend using between 10-15 drops of food coloring, flowers or leaves. Make sure you use real flowers because artificial flowers float to the bottom and don’t allow for the pretty bohemian look. Also when using food coloring make sure your subject isn’t wearing white because although it isn’t likely it will stain there is always the possibility. I also recommend using milk along with the food coloring because I think it makes the colors pop more!


If you would like to see the full set of these images you can click on the three links below! If you end up taking water portraits make sure to tag me @goodallphotos so I can see your interpretation of it!

Surrealistic Water Portraits

Pool Portraits 

Water Portraits (the OG)

Want to see more of my photography tutorials? Click here to see more!

Want to do a shoot together? Click here for booking and pricing information!

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Instagram: @goodallphotos

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Let’s get shooting!