Quick Tip – Using The Color Red

I’ve talked about black and white versus color before so I’ll spare you the rehash and focus on specifics…  Specifically the color red.  First, it’s important to understand that color plays an important role in composition.  The easiest way to learn this is to switch from looking for interesting subjects like people, places, and objects and start treating a specific color as your subject.  Once you switch your train of thought (regarding color) you’ll quickly realize that some colors are more interesting than others, like red.

Red is universal, it means stop, warning, danger in every language and territory.  Red excites us and demands our attention.  You can use the color red to catch viewers eyes and lead them through the photograph, even busy photographs that would normally swallow subjects up like a tsunami.


The red umbrella in this photograph is the only reason it was worth keeping.  Taking this photograph was not even a question, as soon as I saw the red umbrella my camera was on its way up to my face.  Use your imagination and subtract the red umbrella from the image and ask yourself how interesting it would be (spoiler alert: not very).  Without the red umbrella your eyes would actually be drawn to the mans blue jeans which is neat but doesn’t add up to an interesting photograph.

Next time you’re composing your photograph try to incorporate the color red in a way that makes your subject stand out from the crowd…  A red scarf, hat, umbrella, or shirt will work just fine.  Every color has a general meaning to humans, some colors excite us, calm us, and make us want to scream.  If you’d like to learn more about the effects of color on your viewers you can read up on Color Theory on the Google machine or at your local bookstore/library.

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