If red colour was a dog, it would be a barking Alsatian. Red is the colour that people go both when they’re angry and when they’re in the throes of passion. It’s the colour of the boy racer’s throaty sports-car and the warning colour of the poisonous berry. ‘Roses are red’, so are shiny apples and plump tomatoes. But if noses are red, then the photographer needs Adobe Photoshop and the subject needs AA. Unless it’s Rudolf the Reindeer. Red is the colour of the sky at night that gives shepherds delight, but it spells danger if put in a light.
Red is a shouty colour, it makes its presence felt, you know it’s there. Eyes will snap to the red thing in a photograph like a compass needle finds north. Which is great if the red thing is also the subject of the picture, but a hopeless distraction if it’s not.
“Red protects itself. No colour is as territorial. It stakes a claim, is on the alert against the spectrum.” (Derek Jarman)
“A thimbleful of red is redder than a bucketful.” (Henri Matisse)
“Nothing attracts attention like a red dress.” (Laura Bush)
“Put on your red shoes, and dance the blues.” (David Bowie)
Photographer and writer Tony Northrup explains colour science. (Really well) (I understood it)
Jacob Oleson writes on the meaning of red.