Week 10: Dark & Moody

March 27-April 2

We’re in the final stretch, everyone! It’s Week 10, and in total contradiction to spring (depending on where you are in the world), we’re going dark and moody.

Personally, I love a good dark and moody feeling in photography. I find that it’s a great contrast to the trendy white and bright visuals. And have you noticed how the trend is veering into overly bright and washed out? It hurts my eyes.

On the other hand, there’s been criticism before of the dark and moody vibe being pushed too much in TV shows and movies. I legit had to stop watching a show because I could see nothing, even with the TV screen’s brightness at max and window shades drawn.

The rise of digital cameras replacing film has made lighting a very different job for cinematographers on set. You get to instantaneously see what images look like in the camera, and when you work on the project in post, there isn't some complicated way to make images darker. You can use filters and settings in your edit suite.

That's led to what I think is an overcorrection to equate mood and cinematography with darker images. People are pulling colors and light out in post to make sure you really understand how moody and serious their stories can be. Even worse, filmmakers might get the lighting right, but the studio may step in and ask for it to be changed to get more emotions across, even if they're wrong!

A dark and moody scene in literature is built with suspense, dialogue, and plot. Think murder mysteries, intrigue, or a lot of internal self-criticisms (I mean, a depressed person is probably dark and moody at times). Happily ever afters may exist, but not until you’ve put them through some hell first. You could also take it more literally and have them wander around a place that is dark, like a cave or basement.

Examples & directions to go:

  • Play around with lighting and use objects to create extreme shadows.
  • Illustrate in black and white
  • Put on your favorite horror show or movie and reflect on it afterwards
  • Recreate a favorite image or story but with a dark & moody angle
  • Edit an image or film that you’ve made before and play with filters and elements to make them darker

Mood board & inspiration: