Red, the love and hate relationship.

How can one even describe a color like red?
To us today, the color red is more than just a color. It is ubiquitous especially in urban surroundings. It is on billboards, incorporated in brands, flags, traffic lights, on alert signs, it is even on women’s lips around the world.

Red, the love and hate relationship. Moments Mag
Red, the love and hate relationship. Example of the color red as a single point of interest.

As humans we have been witnessing the reddish color of sunrise and sunset since the dawn of humanity. Our ancestors started using the red pigments (Ochre) clay pigmented by hematite as a source to paint their faces and bodies for rituals but also as a paint to depict the walls of caves with items and scenes from their lives that mattered to them. The color of blood is red, fresh meat is red and thus for hundreds of thousands of years through evolution red was the color of plenty, the color of food, the color of something that is desirable and good. It is no wonder that we have an emotional, psychological and historical attachment to the color red.

Red, the love and hate relationship. Moments Mag
Red, the love and hate relationship. Example of the color red as a multiple point of interest.

After thousands of years, our view of what the color red represents may have changed but our relationship with the color has not. We added new meanings to it, as we developed as humans so did the notion of red and what it represents.
In our modern, visually obsessed society it serves, among other things, as an important element of attention grabbing and statement setting.

Regardless of our advancements it is still the color that influences us the most. Modern psychology places many attributes the the color red in terms of passion, energy, determination and the list goes on.

So what is there not to like about the color red?
In photographic terms, the single most annoying point about the red color is that it is so overwhelming that it leads to distraction. It simply draws our attention to it regardless of its position within a frame, if presented as a single element.

Red, the love and hate relationship. Moments Mag
Red, the love and hate relationship. Example of the color red as a single point of interest.

In multiple elements it overwhelms the entire frame, it overtakes the scene and makes it its own as if possessed with some kind of a primordial energy.

Red, the love and hate relationship. Moments Mag photography zine and blog
Red, the love and hate relationship. Example of the color red as a multiple point of interest.

One has to take special care when multiple reds are in one scene especially if the reds are of different intensity and luminosity.
This is regarding to elements that are uncontrollable in fast shooting situations like social documentary photography or photo journalistic work.
In more controlled circumstances the color red can be a powerful guiding force and can attach to itself different attributes and symbols that may help with the story telling process.

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