The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

The Red Photo Challenge - and Episode 56 of Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres

Mostly when we talk about colour in photography, it's in contrast to the tradition of black and white.

However, something not discussed quite as often is the role of individual colours. What difference does it make to a photo if the subject is wearing a blue shirt rather than a yellow one? Or why will an orange grab more attention in a bowl of fruit than a green apple (unless there is only one green apple in a bowl full of oranges)?

Each colour has it's own feel, flavour, and impact on our senses. Some of these are down to our genetics – how we perceive the different wavelengths of light – and some of it is cultural – like wedding dresses being white in Western culture because it is associated with purity, but in Asia white is the colour of death and mourning – more like black is in the West.

It would take many hours to cover all the different colours, so last week in the Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook group I put up a poll for people to vote for a colour for me to chat about in the podcast.

Red came out the clear winner (blue was second and purple was third), so last night I talked about some of the cultural associations, how it grabs the attention, adds energy and intensity, and how it interacts with other colours. I also pointed out that unlike pale blue and pale green, we don't have pale red – pink is seen as a separate colour with it's own cultural properties and significance.

Another fun fact I discovered in my research is the reason we talk about redheads, red squirrels, red foxes, red deer and the like, when all of them are far more orange than red, is because orange wasn't introduced into the English language as a colour until the 16th Century. Prior to that orange purely referred to the fruit. The best you could have hoped for was yellowish-red, or reddish-yellow.

All this then has been used as a precursor to next week's Red Challenge for the podcast.

The subject can be anything you like, but red must obviously feature.

This could mean the photo is mostly red, or there are small aspects of red in the image that act as an accent, or draw the eye in a particular way to enhance the narrative.

I don't want to see it being used in a selective colour way though, so no black and white photos with a red patch in them.

The exception to this might be if the image is quite abstract or even has a graphic design, iconic feel to it – but unless you really feel you've nailed something special, then better to avoid it.

But if you find you're struggling, then you can still submit a photo you're having difficulty with - just explain the problem and I can include suggestions and ideas in the podcast too.

Stick your photo (just the one please) either into this event page in the Discussion section:

or into the Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook Group:

Try and get it in before the end of the weekend, or by Monday (3rd May) at the latest. Anything that arrives on Tuesday runs the risk of not being included in the podcast.

You can use a phone, tablet, point-and-shoot or DSLR (or mirrorless).

And then, make sure you tune in on Tuesday 4th May at 7.30pm (UK time) where I'll go through the photos, and give comments and feedback, and hopefully we will all become inspired by some of the submissions to go and try out new things with our photography.

Meanwhile, enjoy episode 56 below!


0:00 - Welcome, what's coming up, greetings and comments
4:38 - Understanding Red - it's intensity and impact - in photography and composition
42:02 - Introduction to the Critique section of the podcast
44:20 - Critique of images submitted to the Facebook Group, "Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres"
1:28:33 - Coming up next week - the Red Challenge
1:33:20 - End

If you found this interesting/useful/entertaining, then please consider supporting these podcasts and blog posts via

Also consider subscribing to my YouTube channel - – to help me build the numbers.

And, or course, if you would like to submit a photo for feedback, or just ask a photography related question, then do join my Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook group and I will put it into the following podcast:


neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

I wish I had a photography tutor when I was studying communications! You make photography so much fun...and I believe that learning should be interesting and fun. It's not only the technical stuff we need to know.

I love red. I remember writing an email about it. I should dig it up. I have a story in my head too, about the colour red.

I'm sharing this post, Kim. :)

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

A photographer tutor like you, I mean, Kim!

Kim Ayres said...

Neena - you're lovely! Your kind words are always appreciated :)
It doesn't surprise me you love red, given your avatar is red lips :)

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