In the same way that a particular part of the world can have a distinctive landscape, readily identifiable architecture or even recognisable scents and sounds, many destinations possess an identifiable set of colours.
Often, in fact, the colours of a region are one of the first things that come to mind when we create a mental image of a particular destination—the hillsides of Vermont in October or the colourful fishing boats that line Caribbean beaches, for example. Colour and places are inexorably linked in our imaginations and in our memories—a fact not lost on those who design travel brochures or edit travel magazines. You don’t see photos of hotel rooms in ads for Bora Bora; you see photos of the turquoise sea. When it comes to travel: colour sells.
There are many reasons why a particular geographic area has its own identifiable colour scheme. In terms of homes and other structures, often it’s because of the abundance of a particular building material. The earthen-coloured adobe structures of the American southwest, for example, exist because for centuries, that was the only material available to construct homes. Often an area’s colours are related to its agriculture—the lavender fields and sunflower farms of France are instantly recognisable examples. Then, too, there is the simple matter of climate: the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii are both lushly green because there is a lot of moisture to nourish plant growth.
The colours of a region are also born from and interwoven with the culture and are reflected in every part of their lives and their environments, from their wardrobes to their homes to their foods. The intensely coloured red and yellow walls in Stephanie Albanese’s travel photo almost instantly identify the locale as Mexico. Even if you’ve never been to Mexico, the colours are simply too distinctive to exist anywhere else.
The distinct look of a particularly colourful region usually comes as a delightful revelation for traveling photographers because, being the visual souls that we are, the colours just shout out—particularly if we happen to come from rather mundane places. ‘Our environment here in upstate New York is fairly monochromatic, especially during the long winter months,’ says Albanese who frequently travels with her husband Gary Whelpley, both professional photographers. ‘So, when visiting new places, we especially enjoy environments and cultures which embrace vibrant colour in all aspects of life. The simple fact of being immersed in a new culture absolutely delights me.’
The images here, of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and Santorini, Greece were all shot by Albanese and are wonderful examples of just how identifiable—and fun—the colours of a place can be.
The Photographer’s Master Guide to Color is Jeff Wignall’s thorough course on colour and the role it plays in digital photography, giving you a new understanding of the important role colour plays in the creation of successful photos, and allowing you take outstanding colour photographs with any digital camera.