Dark Mood in Photography

Shadows in the Park. A Self-Portrait Pano.

As I often find myself on the darker side of life, I also capture images that evoke a darker, more somber mood. Today I’d like to share a few examples of dark-mood photography, as well as a few links to some of my previous posts about capturing mood in photography.

Here are a few things to consider when trying to express a dark mood in images:

  • subject and story – some subjects/stories evoke a dark(er) mood, some don’t; so, start with the subject of your story and with the (visual) story, and consider the mood they would evoke
  • title – the title usually hints at the subject/story and even at the mood evoked in that visual story; so, choose accordingly
  • using black-and-white, even more, chiaroscuro (think “film noir” images, low-key lighting) usually helps enhance the darker, more dramatic elements in an image and, hence, its story
  • certain light patterns also help enhance a dark mood; for example, backlighting and split lighting. Backlighting creates silhouettes, hence, mystery. Split lighting (90-degree side lighting) enhances texture and, depending on the subject and story, a dramatic element and a darker mood.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Katyn Memorial silhouetted by the Tribute Lights on a 9/11 night, #tbt ©Alina Oswald. Al Rights Reserved.
And while maybe not as dark as the other images included in this post, because it also somewhat hints at a possible future, “Time Waits for Nobody” ©Alina Oswald. #Velvet56 #LensbabyPhotography inspired by Freddie Mercury’s song, and also by the passing of time and maybe how its passing shapes our lives

Most of my work, writing and photography, captures stories that usually evoke more of a somber mood, maybe not necessarily dark, but not often a happy-go-lucky feeling, either. I believe that that’s, in part, because, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve always found myself on the darker side of life; hence, that’s what I’m usually drawn to, and that’s where I often find the subjects and stories I get to cover.

Also, I believe that the mood evoked in a story not only enhances the story, itself, but also inspires our work, in general, and has a role in defining our creative voice.

That said, I do hope that this finds you all in a relaxed mood, safe and well.

And as always, thank you for stopping by.

Alina Oswald

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