Try Using The Color Red In Your Next Photography Project


There is something about the color red that make our brains go a little bit crazy. A symbol of love, rage, courage, desire, power, and passion, it is one of the prime colors that can have an amazing impact on people and, as such, an amazing impact on your photography.

The earliest attempts at photographing color can be traced back to the 1840's, but it wasn't until 1935 when Kodak introduced their legendary Kodachrome film that color photography became a ubiquitous thing.

It is important to note, that this particular film behaves exquisitely when it comes to warm colors, especially red. A couple of years ago, Fujifilm developed something called “Classic chrome” in order to mimic this extraordinary behavior.

Photo by Federico Alegría

I'm a black and white photography lover, but there is something about seeing the color red in a scene or photograph, that makes me oddly enthusiastic. As you may know, I love taking pictures in the streets, and composing with colors in mind has been extremely difficult to me.

Nevertheless, I'm always looking for interesting color relationships. Lately I've started to capture more and more color images that I find pleasing (at least to me), and what is particularly curious is that they all have at least a tiny hint of red in them.

Red Immediately Draws Your Attention

Photo by Kent DuFault

Let's take a look at the image above. This image is by the amazing Kent DuFault – Director of Content for and contributor here at Light Stalking (you'll know him from Photo Of The Week). Kent goes into detail about this photo in his article about using the color red in your photography

The image could be seen as a regular candid frame if it wasn't for the red hat the man is wearing. Kent is a master when it comes to composition, and he decided to place the red hat at the very center of the image with one single purpose, to efficiently catch our attention so we can then read the image and start to wonder about what is going on there.

Red is a bulletproof resource for grabbing your viewers’ attention.

Red Also Creates Interesting Contrast

The color red is so fascinating that it will always create a lot of contrast when placed with other colors around it, even if they are primary colors.

Let's see the image below as an example. The presence of the red color is so intense that it creates a lot of tension, it also creates a pleasing duality with the greenish tones on the sidewalk and the street.

Photo by Federico Alegría

Red Can Even Create An Eerie Or Unsettling Feeling

This image from William Eggleston is one of those weird famous photographs that made its way through the fine art world. Just look at it, for a while, it is so tense and claustrophobic that even though it is an image of a rather mundane subject, it moves our mind to more unsettling feelings.

Color is powerful part of composition, and using it effectively is a skill that will improve your photography. Colors are amazing for the impact they can have on our lives, thoughts and feelings. So add some Red to your images and don't forget to show us how you went in the forums.

About Author

Federico has a decade of experience in documentary photography, and is a University Professor in photography and research methodology. He's a scientist studying the social uses of photography in contemporary culture who writes about photography and develops documentary projects. Other activities Federico is involved in photography are curation, critique, education, mentoring, outreach and reviews. Get to know him better here.

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