Use of contrast

Contrast – Take Your Photos to the Next Level

Did you know contrast is essential to a striking image? In fact, it’s crucial. Contrast adds depth to an image, making it more attractive. It invites the viewer to really look at a photo and the story behind it. For example, you’ve got a beautiful portrait and you want to convey the feelings of your subject to the viewer. In this article you’ll learn how contrast works and how to create an even stronger image. 

Understanding Contrast

Contrast consists of two types, color contrast and light contrast. With a black-and-white photo, for example, contrast in light is the difference between the darkest and lightest shades, but also between the shades of gray. Photography with colors is about how the colors stand out against each other and also the amount of light in a color. This difference is created by textures, highlights, shadows, colors and brightness. By playing with contrast you can make your photo more powerful and exciting. 

Different uses

1. Color Contrast

Color Contrast can be a beautiful type of contrast, opposite colors can have a reinforcing effect. As you can see in the image below. Opposite colors are orange/blue, red/green and yellow/purple.  The amount of light in a color also provides contrast, for example, consider a beautiful yellow sunflower field against a clear blue sky.

Color Contrast in portrait photography
Photo by: Mark van Velsen

2. Backlight

One of photography’s ‘rules’ is: shoot with the sun in your back. However, the use of backlight can create beautiful dark silhouettes against a light background. When backlit, the sun’s rays shine directly into the lens.

backlit building with sunset
Photo by: Albert Dros

3. Capture the World in Black & White

Sometimes you take a photo with little color contrast, or a photo that you think would look nicer in black and white. The use of black and white emphasizes contrasts between light and dark, and in most cases, the greater the contrast, the stronger the photo.

black and white contrast
Photo by: Frank Doorhof

4. Find the Contrast

Contrast is not only in light and color, it is also between subjects. Examples of this are busy and quiet or large and small.

contrast of majestic and small
Photo by: Ifan Bima

5. Use High-Key or Low-Key

Contrast can also be emphasized by taking a high-key or low-key photo. High-key photos mainly consist of white and gray tones and are therefore very bright photos. Low-key is the opposite of high-key and therefore consists of dark shades of gray and black. High-key and low-key can work well to convey a certain feeling to the viewer of your photo. High-key photos generally convey a form of happiness and youthful appearance, while low-key photos convey a more dramatic, mysterious and / or evil ambiance.

By using contrast in different ways you can take your photos to a higher level and truly convey the moment you captured. 

Use these tips about contrast to take your photos to the next level! Share your photos with us on instagram and get a shout out on our story!


Are you curious about all the tips for preparing your photos for your best photo print ever? 

Read the previous tips here!