The Psychology of Colour

As a photographer, understanding the psychological impact of colours helps me to understand the mood my photos can bring to you. Consequently, I find the subject of colour psychology incredibly interesting.

Every colour has a different emotional influence on our brains. They trigger memories and associated emotions, which affect our state of mind. The emotional value and the effect of a particular colour can vary from person to person, which is why we all have a favourite colour.  Our colour memory is very personal, and it can affect how we react when we see photographs. 

In interior decoration, colour plays a critical role.  I am not an interior designer, but colour and lighting are a huge aspect of photography and it is good to understand these colours.

All colours have a different meaning, and each have feelings associated with them, a lot of which will ring true for many of you.  I have tried to explain a little below by using examples of my images. 


Red is a warm colour and can be bold/bright, even when there is snow in the photo.  Red is attractive – it stands out, gets noticed. It’s also often associated with excitement, strength, power, action, energy, warmth, assertiveness and presence.


As a mixture of red and yellow, Orange represents balance and harmony, making things seem cheerful.  It promotes affection, tranquillity and balance whilst symbolising high spirits and optimism. Orange is an active and vibrant colour. It can be autumnal, inspiring, tasty, interesting, active, warm and stimulating. When considering interior design, Orange provides warmth and is stimulating, creating a pleasant atmosphere.


Yellow is the colour of the sun, even though sunlight is actually colourless. It is the colour of optimism, of light and insight.  Yellow is striking, pushy and loud. As it is effective at reflecting light, yellow also gives a warm look. A room decorated in yellow comes across as friendly; in combination with orange, the cosy atmosphere is enhanced.


Green is the colour of youth, the colour of life and new life whilst being reminiscent of spring.  It reminds us of nature and it is fresh and stable. This is a neutral colour and in a room is mainly relaxing and tranquil.


Blue is a cool, cold colour. It stands for sympathy, harmony, kindness, intelligence, loyalty and sincerity. A blue room can make us feel restful. It can be thought of as cool and tranquil. Blue hues can be shadows, snow, ice, water, the sky.


Purple and lilac rarely occur in nature; perhaps this is why they are two of my favourite colours. They stand for the magical, the mysterious and the secretive. Purple is a combination of warmth and coolness and can be a colour that inspires us. It can make us feel peaceful and bring out the thoughtfulness in us.


Here’s an interesting fact for you. Rose is derived from the French word for a rose, the flower. It canmake us feel optimistic, cheerful and positive. It is delicate, compassionate and can give off a calm feeling in your rooms, as it can be soft. In my photos, different shades of light pink can be found in sunrises predominantly, often giving a pastel appearance. It can also be bold in flowers.


Brown is an earthy colour, which is a mix of the primary colours yellow, red and blue. Brown stands for earthy, completeness, stability and restfulness, warmth and security. It can give a feeling of space and growth. It is a calming and relaxing colour that can make a room feel cosy and comfortable. I often take macro photos with brown shades.


White is the total of all the colours of light. It is the colour of the lovely, the perfect, the ideal, the clean and innocent. It makes a room seem lighter, more spacious and restful.


Black is stylish and devoid of risk. It symbolizes individuality and aloofness and is associated with class and style. Black be seen to have a feeling of negativity but in an interior can become luxurious and dramatic. In photos it absorbs the light, so I don’t use it too much.


Grey is pretty emotionless and therefore easy to combine with other colours. It is timeless and neutral. It instils feelings of safety, dignity and sometime sadness. Next to silver, grey can bring calmness and serenity.

My thoughts….

Colour has a huge effecton us. The majority of what we process and remember is visual.  The memories we have from our past have a long-lasting effect on us, how we perform, our state of mind, our emotions and much more. Often these things may get lost when choosing the right image for your room so I encourage my clients to think carefully about the psychology of colour before selecting an image. 

Thinking about your interior colour scheme and the photos you love are important, but so is thinking about the effect they’ll have on you, your feelings and emotions are arguably just as important.

If you’d like to work with me to select an image that suits both your personality and your interior design choices, get in touch now for a consultation.

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