The arrival of the first warm days brings new leaves and blossoms to greet us. After enduring the gray winter, our eyes hungrily devour the fresh green we see all around us. We’ve got spring fever – not only due to the warm rays of the sun or the earthy aroma of the soil, but also because of this one special color in all of its nuances: green symbolizes renewal, hope, growth, youth, freshness and vitality. When nature gets the green light to unfurl in all her glory, it’s a no-holds barred celebration of life.

© Borislav Zhuykov/Westend61

Scientifically, it has been known for a long time that colors elicit emotional responses in those viewing them and that observers assign certain associations to colors. We don’t only see our environment in color, we think and feel in colors, too. Green, along with blue and violet, belong to the ‘cold’ colors, while red, yellow and orange are considered ‘warm’ colors. In particular, the color green has been credited for having a calming effect on its viewers.

Of course, the effect that colors have on our moods is utilized in advertising, especially via commercial photography. It’s known that buying decisions are largely influenced by emotions. Advertising psychologists have found out that color can be a key factor for purchasing decisions in a wide variety of industries, not only including areas where it might be expected, such as fashion.

In advertising and sales psychology, each color possesses a certain effect and transmits – when correctly put to use – a message to potential customers. Let’s come back to our springtime example of green. This color is characterized as ‘natural’, ‘calming’, ‘tolerant’, ‘content’ or ‘hopeful’. There’s also a reassuring undertone passed along through this color which says ‘here you have the chance to purchase something of lasting value.’ Who would want to turn down such an attractive offer? Accordingly, shades of green are perfectly suited for promoting products related to nature, environmental protection, health and organic foods. Green’s impact can influence many things – from the purchase of a cucumber to political choices.

© Anna Huber/Westend61

© Dirk Wüstenhagen/Westend61

In addition to the instant stirring of emotions, colors also have another on-going function which extends well beyond the initial moment of encounter. Well-stablished brands featuring a memorable signature color have a higher recognition value, giving them an edge over competitors with similar products. Therefore, they are able to consistently command the customer’s attention, ensuring that their items successfully sell themselves.

However, advertising isn’t only about logos or product packaging; rather, it relies heavily on skillfully crafted images. That’s where photographers and photo agencies with their creativity and know-how come in. In the age of digital photography, there are hardly any limits when it comes to color design in an image, thanks to a variety of in-camera settings and post-production options. However, since an image that’s too colorful can annoy the viewer by disorienting them, it’s best to feature no more than 2 to 4 strong colors in an image.

© Sandra Roesch/Westend61

© Valentina Barreto/Westend61

Going easy on the use of strong background hues is also recommended, unless you’re looking to convey an advertising message. Don’t pour out the whole bucket of paint – dip your brush in and mindfully implement your strokes. The positive effects of a color can be lost through improper selection and application. For example, a green that is too bright may end up suggesting that something is not ripe, is sour, or isn’t edible. Sometimes less is more – the color green in the Westend61 logo is used sparingly, yet it carries a lot of impact. Commenting on the logo, Gerald Staufer, Westend61’s CEO, said: “Green is perpetually modern, and it stands for our fresh, contemporary collection of images.”

More images on that issue can be seen here.