Sunday, April 5, 2009

97 Silly Rules - #33

Silly Rule #33. Don’t use red, because red means anger.

My answer – Red CAN mean anger, but it can also mean a thousand other things. I have red library walls, and sure, I get angry in here occasionally. I’m angry right now (guess why!). But that isn’t why I made them red, and red is NOT what made me angry.
If red means anger, then why do so many temples have big red doors? Why do rooms made for contemplation have so much red? Why do so many museums have red walls? Why do so many homes have red doors? And restaurants? And brothels (so I’ve heard). Superman’s cape. Cincinnati Reds.
They all have their reasons for their reds. Red can mean energy, enthusiasm, appetite, and 997 other things. A good photography judge won’t be as narrow-minded and simplistic as the one I quoted here.

Adina St John's self-portrait with red


Here’s a Facebook dialog between a photographer, pictured above, and me:
(Fred) ...Before we go further with my critique, since you are one of the few worth saving, you need to answer a question: talk to me about your state of mind as you set up the red shot - step by step. ...I don't do casual glances at images. Neither do I do casual critiques. I have nothing to gain by this except to give back to a profession I love, a profession I wasted a lot of time and energy learning and following some silly rules.

(Adina St John, here using the speedy Facebook style of writing):
okay...so i was thinking about this all night and all morning.
regarding the red...after high school, when i moved back to the city, i stayed with some family. from there, moved directly in with (future, at the time) dh. so really have never lived alone. the studio is the first space i've had that is just for me. and i wanted it red. talked with some friends about it, was cautioned against the glares and color casts i would have to deal with. figured who cares, and did it anyway. i painted the wall in the office area, and a half wall that goes around a sink and minifridge.
my point...i guess...is that the studio is my own space, my happy place, or whatever you want to call it. my space that is just me. not wife/mom/pta/taxi driver or any of those other labels. and red makes me happy. thus the wall is red.
the actual photo...i'm calm here, relaxed, the only thing to focus on is work. i've got 4-5 hours a day, a couple days a week, that are photography driven. most people find it contrary, but the red soothes me, because it's me. i wasn't sure exactly what i was going to get with the photo, but i knew i wanted the red, and i wanted the calm.

Adina, I couldn’t have said it better.

Even the red bullfighting capes that the matadors of Spain use does not mean anger. Yes, it may INCITE anger...among bulls. And I will certainly keep that in mind the next time I decorate a corral.
See, red means many things to many people. To some it is simply a very pretty color. Red poppies in my terraces are certainly not angry. The red poppies in Flanders Field have become symbolic of a great sadness there. My Red Horses have nothing to do with anger, but rather the Will.
Don’t use red in a picture because it means anger? That’s not only silly, it’s simple-minded, simplistic, and wrong. Grrrrr! Now I’m getting angry.
Besides, getting rid of that color would leave an obvious gaping hole in your box of crayons.