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Emotions and Colours: Effects, Moods, Associations and Favourites; Use in Photography


Ann is interested in the Arts, particularly the connections between them. Colours, music and emotions are essential within the arts.

Boutet's Colour Wheel


Which colours connect to which emotions? We talk about ‘a red rag to a bull’ and ‘green with envy’. But do our emotions themselves conjure up these colours? I’m going to look at how we decide to use which particular colour to represent our feelings.

Negative and Mist

Negative of me on a swing, with someone pushing me - you fill in the gaps!

Negative of me on a swing, with someone pushing me - you fill in the gaps!

Big Ben in the Mist - how does this make you feel?

Big Ben in the Mist - how does this make you feel?

I’m a keen photographer, taking after my Dad who enthused me with his passion for the craft. He had a dark-room in which to print his own work and also experimented with certain ways of manipulating the original negative. This would create mood, so one photo could be given diverse interpretations – who said the camera never lies?

Black and White Texture

Texture of fungi

Texture of fungi

Moods in Photography

A gifted photographer can catch a mood in any type of shot, given that he or she must be in the right place at the right time, without using any chemicals or touch-up techniques. Add a talent for composition, an eye for a good angle of light and good observation to catch the unusual, then you graduate to excellence.

Black and white can be used to great effect, if one wants stark impact, to convey a direct message, or if it’s blurred to create mystery. Find texture and you offer another dimension. I love this flowery fungus. The photo is full of texture; I can find at least four. This is when we start to affect emotion.


My Father's Parents (on their wedding day I think)

My Father's Parents (on their wedding day I think)

Sepia was the brown tint first used for ‘colour’, now deliberately used to recreate age and a sense of nostalgia. I have treasured photos of great-grandparents in sepia and I go all misty-eyed when I see them.

Ok, it’s nostalgia, but it’s also seeing people from long ago in a reality that’s a little familiar. Emotions are mixed. I’d love to ask them questions, to have known them, to find out what traits I might have inherited from them. I feel love, the tug of family ties, and a strange sense of protection.

Rose-tinted cheeks!

Little Me with Rosy Cheeks

Little Me with Rosy Cheeks


Some photos of me as a baby were done by a ‘professional’, alongside those that my father took. Those professional prints were ‘touched-up’, as often happened, to give a baby rosy cheeks, or to highlight the colour of the hair. Was this to give a false image of that person or was it to make them look their best, to enhance the best feature or to give delight to the observer, the receiver of the photograph perhaps?

Favourite Colour?

What’s your favourite colour? Why? What emotions does that colour evoke in you?

Mine is green, the colour of plants and trees (another specific favourite of mine), soothing in most of its shades. It is a principal colour of nature - dark glossy holly leaves, paler elegant willow leaves, the specific green of grass on a chalky downland. It shelters memories and stores an album of past images.

How Many Greens?

Greens, greens, greens

Greens, greens, greens


Pale, pastel green soothes me, a vivid lime will awaken my senses and make me feel alive or full of fun. A dark bottle-green will make me feel mellow; it’s a winter colour which comforts me and reminds me of mediaeval times. If I see a mint green, I can smell the mint, not because I’m a synesthete but because my memory conjures up that smell for me; it is a familiar one and it pleases my senses.

Sadly, green is also the colour of envy, though I don’t know why - is it the frequency of its sound waves? Research into coloured noises says that

‘green noise… has been described as a signal with more energy concentrated in the middle of the sound spectrum…; it supposedly simulates the ambient noise of nature.’ (Neal)

Well, that fits my preference for green and my love of nature!

The idiom ‘green with envy’, is believed to have been coined by William Shakespeare. In Othello, Iago warns Othello of jealousy, “the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”

Red and Blue

Red is the colour of anger, a ‘red rag to a bull’ makes him go berserk. But why? Colours influence emotions but so, too, do emotions have some bearing on colours. We ‘see red’ when we’re angry, presumably because the blood rushes to the head, or the surface, and our skin tends to go red.

Blue, for some, conjures up feelings of cold, or is associated with something risqué. I find a pale blue in a room very cold and unwelcoming; a warm hyacinth blue is good though.

Here are a few thoughts on colour, quotes from the well-known.

Quotes regarding 'Colour'

‘Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.’ Oscar Wilde

Colour is a matter of taste and of sensitivity.’ Edouard Manet

‘Colours speak all languages.’ Joseph Addison

'I advise students on the subject of colour as follows: If it looks good enough to eat, use it.' Abe Ajay (now there's a overlap of senses!)

'If one says 'red' - the name of color - and there are fifty people listening, it can be expected that there will be fifty reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.' Josef Albers

'I can smell it already, what color I have on my palette...' Bill Alexander (more senses!)

'Color... thinks by itself, independently of the object it clothes.' Charles Baudelaire

'You put down one color and it calls for an answer. You have to look at it like a melody.' Roomier Bearden (music!)

'Drawing is feeling. Color is an act of reason.' Pierre Bonnard

'Color is the language of the poets. It is astonishingly lovely. To speak it is a privilege.' Keith Crown

'They call me mellow yellow...' Donovan

'Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams.' Paul Gauguin

Colours of my Name

First line - my favourite; Second line - next best alternative

First line - my favourite; Second line - next best alternative

I’ll leave you with a thought. I have tried putting colours to my name, each letter with a different colour so that I have a combination that suits my eye. I like bright pink with green and I like purple with yellow. My preference is the first; it sits well with my emotions.

Try doing the same, if the idea takes your fancy, and see what you come up with. If you wish to share the result, even better!

I hope your world is a beautiful, peaceful colour today.



© 2021 Ann Carr


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 11, 2021:

Devika: thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I had fun writing it!


Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 11, 2021:

Colours are beautiful and in so many ways. You chose a creative way to make this hub come alive.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 11, 2021:

Ann you have done a great job here. Colorus are beautiful and in so many ways.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 11, 2021:

Hi Greg! Thanks for your great comment.

No, it's not my father as he took the shot, hence the attribution. The most likely is my grandfather as he took me to the park quite a bit. Might be my mother but I don't think so. I don't remember because they were always out with me when the weather was fine.

My father was definitely my inspiration; always was with all sorts of things (my mother too for some), always will be. I suppose there are still those who take photography seriously and do their own exposures but, as you say, it is given over much more to the digital these days.

My 20 year old granddaughter got the bug a long time back and she takes some good shots. I think her uncle is helping her with manual exposure, apertures, focusing and the like. Her younger sisters also have cameras, so it's a family thing, of which I'm proud.

Good to see you. Hope you're keeping well.


greg cain from Idaho, USA on March 10, 2021:

Ann - this is, as usual, an outstanding article. The work brought to mind old family pictures in sepia and B&W, and all the feelings that attend those pictures when we break them out. That is something nearly lost in this age of ubiquitous digital cameras. I suspect it is your father pushing you in the negative near the top of the article, but only you know the answer to that...since he is also attributed, I might be wrong. Anyway, thanks for the wonderful article, Ann. You clearly put your heart into it, as you always do.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 10, 2021:

Thank you, Tuli, for your kind words. I have loads of time as I'm retired but busy people like you do really well to contribute to this site as you do. I'm pleased you liked this.


Tuli Banerjee from Kolkata on March 10, 2021:

Excellent article Ann! Thoughtful, creative.... I have no words to explain. Every day I am learning so much, though I get little time to write or read on HubPages. Thank you so much for sharing this...

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 10, 2021:

Linda: I'm glad you found this in the feed too. It seems rather arbitrary how that works. Great to have done a black and white photo for 7 days on the trot.!

I know that colour is now considered carefully when decorating dentists' waiting rooms and hospital wards etc, but I haven't gone into it any more than that. Great point. I presume it's the same psychological viewpoint that green is soothing, some blues are calming etc.

I might do one more hub about colour, just a fun one, then give it a rest for a while, as I have a pile of others in draft!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 10, 2021:

Thank you Audrey, for your great comment. I think it's interesting and wonderful that you use colours to teach singers 'how to create expressive sounds'; can you elaborate on that - maybe in a hub?!

You keep safe and well too.


Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on March 09, 2021:

Ann, what a fascinating topic (and I am so glad I found it in the feed!) I love the detail of black and white photographs. I once participated in a 7-day challenge on Facebook to post one B&W photo each day that had something to do with my life. What a fun exercise. No doubt you have looked into room color psychology? It gets serious attention in the design of public spaces such as meeting rooms, hospital waiting areas, etc. I am learning so much from you.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on March 08, 2021:

I really like this! The idea of using a negative is amazing. Whenever I learn something new to indulge my creative juices I get excited. You have introduced such exceptional ideas here. I've used colors to teach singers how to create expressive sounds.

Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos.

Stay well and be safe.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 08, 2021:

Hi Flourish! Yes I love them as well; they are so evocative. All these senses are inter-connected aren't they - smell too, as you say!

Those photos sound great against lovely yellow walls.

Thanks for your visit and your interesting input. Hope you're keeping well.


FlourishAnyway from USA on March 07, 2021:

I love sepia photos and associate them with the musty smell of my great grandmother’s large house. I have several of my great great grandmother’s sisters with their fancy dresses and unsmiling expressions hanging on my wall. They are in the sepia of yesteryear and provide an interesting contrast against the emotionally sunny yellow walls of my living room.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Yes, Mary; if you look at the colour wheel, then opposites compliment each other - orange and blue, pink and pale green and, of course, black and white. I agree that the harmony is fascinating. There are so many names but then there are so many shades!

Thanks for reading and commenting. Good to see you today, Mary.

Keep safe and well.


Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 07, 2021:

Colours always fascinate me especially looking at how they can be described uniquely. The right shade of particular colours go well with certain shades of colours. it's the harmony that fascinates me. Some people have the gift for calling colours appropriately. I wish I have it.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Well, Sha, that's an interesting one. I do love lavender and it's got small flowerlets so maybe that's why! Little flowers = little laughs! I'm probably talking rubbish, but then what's new?! I think that's lovely though. Thanks for telling me.


Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 07, 2021:

Ann, this is actually the first time I "heard" color. In the first photo, I could hear you giggling. Your giggles are lavender. Don't ask me how or why because I have no clue, but that's how I "heard" color.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Hello Mel! Thank you for your valuable input. Moods and colours certainly go together; I suppose it has to be a balance.

I don't know about being more alive to the world but I've found that since I've looked at things more closely, there is so much more to delve into. I see the wonders of nature for themselves really, always have, but more so as I grow older and there are fewer things to have to bother about!

Good old Shakespeare, eh! Did you know he coined most of the English idioms we have today, including the 'green-eyed monster'. I'd love to have had a conversation with him!

I appreciate your kind comments and thanks for dropping by today. Keep safe!


Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 07, 2021:

Colors do indeed affect emotion, they can bring out the beast or soothe the beast. When I was growing up they used to tell us that the colors we wore on any given day reflected our moods. I didn't own a lot of clothes, and I didn't buy them myself back then, so maybe they reflected someone else's mood, I was just grabbing whatever was in the closet. But I do believe in the power of color.

You really do have an eye for it. I think you are more alive to the world than I am. I am an observant person, but in a general sort of way, thinking the devil is in the details, whereas you are probably the type who sees God in the details. I love that Shakesperean quote about the green-eyed beast. Your people think up some beautiful things. Great work.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Thank you Ravi, for your kind words and input. Yes, colours have been used by many armies and then there's the Maori face tattoos etc. Ancient British warring tribes smeared their faces with 'woad', pigments from plants, and tried to scare the opposition too! Good idea to scare the enemy without having to fight, though I think most of them ended up fighting anyway!

I appreciate your visit and hope you're well.


Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on March 07, 2021:

Great article Ann. One interesting thing I remember is the ancient war technique of the Aztecs. The Aztecs were ferocious warriors and used to dress their warriors in multiple colored dresses to showcase their ferocity. For example, a warrior dressed in red would be the most ferocious of all while a lesser color might symbolize less experience. The colors were used to psychologically torture the opposition into surrender even without fighting. Great write ann.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Hello Nithya! Glad you enjoyed this. Yes, that's one of my favourite photos.

Let me know if you try the colours for your name!

Keep safe and well.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Thank you, Misbah, for reading and leaving such a great comment. I love the colours you describe. Black is great because it compliments other colours, provides contrast and is also meaningful in its own right.

Good to see you here and thanks for following me.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Hi Peggy! Thanks for the kind words and great input. Yes, I could have learnt a lot from Dad on the developing side of things, but my science was ropy to say the least - I wish I'd done it now though!

I also have photos of 4 generations on my Dad's side (he as a baby, plus his parents and grandparents - the clothes are amazing! They did dress up for them, didn't they, and always had very formal poses! I wrote a hub some time back about it all, wishing I'd asked them questions about their backgrounds.

They still do colour assessments here, for clothes and make-up to match skin tone, hair colour and eyes but I don't know how popular they are.

I also have some hilarious photos of me as I grew up - I'm so lucky to have had a Dad who kept such a wonderful chronological record of our family.

Hope you have a great day, Peggy! Keep safe.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Hello Eric! Great that you enjoyed this. I love that you and your son pick a favourite colour every day - what a wonderful idea! Whose idea was it?

Keep safe and well.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Manatita: Thank you so much for your kind words and great input.

Yes, I was a cute girl once! I agree it's wonderful that we're all different in our responses, emotions and views of the world. How boring it would be without that!

I knew all my grandparents; I was 5 when my maternal grandfather died but the rest I knew until I was 15-20+ and spent quite a bit of time with them as they all lived close by. For that I'm grateful.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Ruby: Thank you for your great input. Yes, colours bring back memories and all the emotions that go with them. It's a great inter-change of all the senses! I'm glad you enjoyed this. Great to see you and I hope you're keeping well.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Thank you, Pamela, for your great comment. I love reds and blacks together - they contrast well and lift the mood I find. I quite often wear that combination. I also like a mustardy yellow, a warm orangey-yellow, or orange itself.

It's great having old photos, isn't it? I love looking through mine and I drift back into history and wonder what kind of lives they led.

I hope this finds you well. Stay safe!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2021:

Shauna: Your colour reaction to the negative photo is amazing! How do you 'hear' lavender? I could understand the possibility of the rest.

That's an interesting observation about the fungi in colour - you're absolutely right of course and that's why black and white works so well with such things, the texture just adding to the wonder. Did you notice the cobweb in the niche of the tree?

Yes, shades, inflections, degrees of mood, all interconnect don't they? Another deep observation, Sha. I get the feeling you're as much into this, a part of it, as I am, but then you helped kick-start it anyway!

I composed the second lot of colours because I wasn't sure which combinations I liked the best and I had to see it and feel it before I decided - that says a lot doesn't it? I have a list of colours and their meanings and I combined them with my name choices - that's for the next hub....

Your name colour-way suits you well. I've said more in my email to you.

Thank you for you detailed comment. I'm grateful for your support and your enthusiasm.

Keep safe and well.


Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 06, 2021:

Interesting article, I enjoyed reading. The photo of your grandparents is lovely. Black and white photos are captivating. Relating a color to each letter of a name sounds fun , will try it with my name.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on March 06, 2021:

Ann, you shared a very wonderful article with beautiful pictures and stories about your Dad. I enjoyed reading it.

I love those Rose-tinted cheeks!

whatever reason is behind enhancing the features in pictures

they still look lovely after decades

I mostly like Sea Green, Blue, and Black color

Sea green and blue because I feel lively

and Black as it is the color Of Kaaba Shareef and I have a special attachment with that color

Thank you for sharing this beautiful article


Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 06, 2021:

Peggy, how does one go about having their colors evaluated? And where? I'd love to have that done for me.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 06, 2021:

I love that sepia-toned photo of your grandparents. I have an album filled with old sepia and black and white photos of relatives that go back several generations. It is fun looking at the poses, the clothing, and the formal setting.

Like Pamela, years ago I had my colors evaluated, and I was also told that I was a winter. Do people still do that? Who knows!

If I could only pick one favorite color, it would probably be a shade of green, although I appreciate all colors.

I loved the photos you showed us with the different moods. You were a cute baby! It must have been fun watching your dad develop his own film. You come by your love of photography naturally!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 06, 2021:

Marvelous. This is really special. The pictures are interesting with the development of color. My dad thought that colored motion picture cartoons were the dawning of a new age in color.

My boy and I get to pick a favorite color everyday. We just love them all.

manatita44 from london on March 06, 2021:

What a beautiful Hub! I enjoyed the read immensely! We look at colours in a mystical way in Yoga. So blue represents vastness, infinity. It's Sri Krishna's favourite colour and also my teacher's. Green is new growth, renewal, progress, revival ... red is dynamism, vibrancy .. life!

Yes, so many tricks can be done with a camera, however, you reminded me that they can also be done with bathroom make-up. Ha-ha.

Such a cute child! Charming! Yes, those quotes are meaningful. At the end of the day, so much is based on perception. This not only differs from one to another, but has to. It's just a part of how creation itself works. Much Love.

You not only knew your parents but their parents? Good for you!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 06, 2021:

My favorite color is green also, I really do not know how I selected the color. perhaps from childhood. I also like yellow. My sister Vergie loved lavender, she had a lavender hat that was bright, and you could see her coming a half mile away. Funny how colors bring memories forward. I have some old pictures of people my mother had and I wonder who they are? You were a sweet little girl with rosy cheeks. My least favorite color is red, I don't know why? You are correct in that colors effect mood, I know it does for me. Great topic, enjoyed!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 06, 2021:

I very much enjoy these article you are writing about colors, Ann. I like your name with the green n's. I am not fond of yellow except in flowers, which I adore.

I was told my complexion was winter, which means I look good in red, black and I guess bold colors. I don't know if anyone talks about that anymore.I don't look good in yellow. I like red (I am not angry), pink and all the warm colors. Green is nice as well.

I have always admired Ansel Adam's black and white photos.I really like the picture of the fungi. Big Ben is a bit gloomy, but I thought it was a picture taken just before the sun rose as it reminded me of just before dawn.

I have inherited several black and white pictures of relatives. I think they were just told not to smile, but I really like the pictures. I have one of my mother that is just beautiful.

I hope you keep writing about colors as the article are fascinating, Ann. I love the beautiful pictures you always post as well. You are a gifted photographer also. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 06, 2021:

Great comment, Shauna! Thank you so much. I'm going to have to come back to this tomorrow as I'm really tired after a busy day (it's 9.40pm) but I love all your details and ideas.

By the way, the only photo which is actually mine is the one of the dresses. Most of the others are Dad's.

Night, night!


Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 06, 2021:

Ann, first off, I love this particular theme of your color journey.

As far as the colors I see in the negative of you being pushed on a swing, I see yellow, green, white, pink, and I "hear" lavender.

The Big Ben photo is gloomy. I just want to put on my pj's, curl up on the couch and watch movies all day.

I love the black and white photo of fungi. I can see the various textures. However, I don't know if they'd be apparent in a color shot. The eye would be more drawn to color rather than depth.

I love the sepia shot of your grandparents. Sepia is one of my favorite exposures. The photo you see of me when we email each other was taken by my son in 2005 when he was taking a photography class. He developed the photo in sepia format. To me, sepia brings forth personality and details that might otherwise be missed in color. And yes, they spark questions in the mind of the viewer.

As you know, purple is my favorite color. To me, purple and all its varying shades connote brightness, happiness, calm, vivacity, pensiveness. Quite the gamut, don't you think?

Shades are just as important to color as inflection is to voice. The varying shades evoke different emotions just as inflection clarifies meaning and tone.

I know green is your favorite color. Although purple is mine, green can be found in just about every room of my house, as you know from pictures I've sent you. What I haven't told you is the exterior of my house is painted sage green with forest (hunter) green window stoops and my roof is also forest green. I've heard several people comment on the beauty of my home when they walk down my road. It stands out from the rest (in a good way!)

I, too, prefer the first set of colors for your name. They describe you: bright, vivacious, full of life. I would imagine the second set of colors would be you on a day when you're feeling blue, uninspired.

I accepted your challenge and wrote my name in color. Unfortunately, I can't upload it in this comment section, but I'll email it to you. I'd love to hear your take on it. Until then, if you can imagine, my S is deep purple, H is lavender, A is pink, U is forest green, N is a muted blue, and A is turquoise. It actually looks quite happy when put together.

This is an awesome addition to your color series, Ann. I hope to see more and I'd love to see more of your amazing photography.

Excellent, excellent article my friend!

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