Life by Selena Photography
Montreal portrait & wedding photographer


The official blog of Montreal portrait and wedding photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle. Explore her signature photojournalistic style and stay up to date on her latest wedding and portrait photography projects here.

Blog 74 : Composing with Colour

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Motivated by a desire to encourage people in my community in their journey as photographers, I've created a new digital community and photo club called the "Creative Potential Photo Club". In this photographic blog post I share the contributions from our fourth assignment.

This month we're meditating on another internal, contemplative assignment and exploring the idea of composition with colour. For those of us who shoot in colour, learning to compose with colours can be just as important as composing images using other elements such as lines, rule of thirds, or internal framing.

1. For the next few weeks, focus on tuning your eye into the world of colour around you while you're waiting for the bus, sitting at a cafe, or walking down the street. Pick an object in your vicinity, and really examine the colour of that object. Not the colour you project the image to be, but the colour the image really truly is in the lighting conditions. Depending on the light, an image we assume to be blue might be more purple; perhaps as a result of distance, the blue object might look more green. As you continue to interact with your environment, take the time to notice all the other objects within your line of sight that have that exact same colour. 
2. Look for opportunities to photograph scenes which have multiple elements with the same colour and photograph them together in a single shot. Consider the colour wheel in your composition and combine colours using the concepts of complementary, analogous, or monochrome colours.
3. Write a paragraph describing how you used colour to create composition in your image. If you want, describe what you learned about colour and photographing with colour through this assignment.

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I got an early tip from Selena that assignment #4 would be about colour. I got very excited, made a short list of ideas and got a fancy roll of film for my submission. Then she sent out the email and I discovered that I’d had the wrong idea.

The I-shoot-these-assignments-on-film deadline came and went, and I decided to look forward to assignment #5. Then one evening, I elected to take the scenic route to a usual destination and discovered a former school, partly demolished, just before sundown. Bam. My assignment photo. 

Without my preferred 23-year old film camera, I pulled out my phone, stood on my toes to just barely reach over the very tall, fabric-covered fence, and shot an unsteady, one-handed, right-to-left, colourful iPanorama.

Although I’m pleased with the photo, and feel it adheres well enough to the assignment guidelines, I believe the takeaway is that an opportunity was (inadvertently) created by making the otherwise insignificant decision to use the slightly more obscure exit from a subway station.

Camera: iPhone 6S

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The places I initially started noticing a variety of similar colours together was in nature, and so my first photos came from there. The thistles I captured had long interested me visually for their geometry; this time I tried looking at the various greens and white that made the striking pattern of the globes stand out.

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Next, I challenged myself to take some photos of something outside of nature. After much wandering and experimentation, the photos I liked the best were of a sculpture in a park. The browns, greys, and greens of the artwork created visual contrasts but also connected it with the trees, grass and dirt surrounding it

Camera: iPhone 8

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As a partially colourblind person, I dove into this assignment with less a fully cognizant approach to the colour wheel as a whole and more of a subtle antipathy for colour and variations dealing with red and green meshing. The last few weeks I have been eyeballing compositions and, admittedly, some of these fell flat in to that end. I wanted to take advantage of early summer's plentiful lush green backgrounds and foregrounds, with vegetation popping all around the Midwest United States. The first two images are from a quick moment helping an older friend say goodbye to a lot of the prior generation's hoarded items.

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The third is a pile of bricks which had all manner of subtle colours popping out of them due to mossy growths and mineral discolouration. The last was taken following a brief summer storm, a drain pipe next to red bricks and green growth, my preference is toward the black and white variant.

Camera: Nikon d850 and Huawai p30

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Here’s the assignment from the first, second, and third months of the Creative Potential Photo Club. Each month I send out new assignments by email. If you want to join the Creative Potential Photo Club, please send me a message through my contact page or an email at lifebyselena[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll add you to the list! After the submissions are compiled, I'll post the images with the goal of fostering the digital community. This is a project of Montreal portrait photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle of Life by Selena Photography.