Photos of the Week

Photos of the Week July 1: Portraits with Bold Colors

July 1, 2024

By Hillary Grigonis

Colors can often be the difference between a successful portrait and one that falls flat. But when working with bold colors, photographers need to present those dramatic hues in a way that highlights the subject, rather than distracting from it. This week, we’re featuring five portraits that epitomize the use of bold colors. Find bright-hued inspiration in these Photos of the Week from Sarah and Darren Hendry, Stephanie DeFranco, Breanne Cook, Pervez Taufiq, and Daniel Nydick.

Sarah Hendry and Darren Hendry, The Hendrys

© The Hendrys

When this couple wanted an engagement shoot that went all in on creativity, Sarah and Darren Hendry of The Hendrys understood the assignment. The duo used colored video lights and fractals to add light trails and differentiate the bride-to-be and her future groom. The Hendrys said the idea came from a brainstorming session ahead of the shoot. They also said that the couple was a dream to photograph. The photographers used the Canon 5D III, Canon EF 35mm f1.4, Neewer RGB Pro LED video lights, a fog machine, and fractal glass.

“Knowing how colors interact, contrast, and complement each other can help create visually striking images,” The Hendrys say. “If artificial lighting will be used, experiment with it first! We tested the lights out on each other in our house to see what worked best in terms of how direct it should be and changing angles if needed. If the colors look dull while post-processing, crank up that saturation and vibrancy! Ensure the background of the image complements the bold colors rather than competing with them. And lastly, don’t hesitate to try unconventional approaches — you might be pleasantly surprised!”

Stephanie DeFranco, Stephanie DeFranco Photography

© Stephanie DeFranco Photography

Inspired by the colors on a fidget toy, Stephanie DeFranco of Stephanie DeFranco Photography turned the colors into a bold-hued portrait series with model and stylist Taylor Sandy. DeFranco, whose style often includes bold colors, used two AlienBee 800 lights with strip boxes and one AlienBee 400 for lighting. She captured the shot with the Nikon Z6 and the Nikon 85mm f1.8.

“My advice is to have a basic understanding of color theory,” DeFranco recommends. “If you want your main color to be green, add pops of a contrasting color such as red or pink. I also like to stick with the rule of three when using bold colors. For example, with this photo, I wanted to add in a third color with a prop or the choice of outfit. I knew that green and pink would be my main colors, so when deciding on a third, I went with yellow so it didn’t overwhelm the two I had already chosen, but still drew the viewer’s eye around the photo.”

Breanne Cook, The Picture House

© The Picture House

Inspired by the bold colors and flawless perfection of Barbie, Breanne Cook of The Picture House captured a series of images that blend Pop Art and contemporary pop culture. The vibrant colors, she says, were selected to evoke a playful sense of glamour and nostalgia with modern, high-fashion aesthetics. She lit the shot using a Godox AD400 Pro with a Glow EZ Lock Collapsible White beauty dish — a key part of getting that plastic, perfect look on the model’s skin along with helping those colors to stand out. She captured the shot with the Sony a7 III and GM 24-70mm f2.8 L II.

“When working with bold colors, it’s important to fully embrace their vibrancy while ensuring they complement each other,” Cook says. “Start with a well-thought-out color palette that aligns with your vision. Utilize lighting to highlight the colors without overpowering the composition. Consider the interplay of contrasts and harmonies; bold colors can create dynamic visuals when used thoughtfully. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries and experiment—bold colors can bring your images to life, infusing them with energy and emotion.”

Pervez Taufiq, P. Taufiq Photography

© P. Taufiq Photography

The silhouetted subjects against the bold colors of blue hour creates a dramatic portrait in this image by Pervez Taufiq of P. Taufiq Photography. The photographer was on a shoot in Jaiselmer, India, riding on camels when he had the idea to capture the couple with the animals on the dunes. He had to move fast as the light from blue hour was leaving quickly. A rim flash from an AD100 added additional separation between the subjects and the background, with the Canon R5 and 28-70mm f2 lens being the photographer’s gear of choice.

“I would recommend that photographers try to experiment and use light that isn’t necessarily always deemed the best light,” he says. “For example, we like to use contrast with direct sunlight and also with blue hour by utilizing flashes to bring the subject’s exposure up while bringing the sky exposure down. This shot in particular was taken in Jaiselmer in a desert at dusk and blue hour. Utilizing two flashes, we were able to separate the subject and camels from the background of the desert and the sky giving us a dramatic portrait unlike anything that is normally done.”

Daniel Nydick, Daniel Nydick Photography

© Daniel Nydick Photography

Inspired by the colors of the little girl’s clothing as well as those on the wall, Daniel Nydick of Daniel Nydick Photography captured this dramatic shot. Pulling off the contrast between her clothing and the wall, the photographer decided to add even more contrast by keeping her small in the frame as she let out a big scream. He captured the shot with the Canon R5 and RF 28-70mm.

“The lives we live are in bold color, so I believe photographic memories should reflect that,” Nydick says. “They also add ‘flavor’ to an image simply because colors are eye candy.”

Dig into our Photos of the Week Archives for even more timeless photoseye-catching wedding photos and portraits. Submit your wedding, editorial, documentary and other interesting imagery (up to five images at a time) to: