Scrolling through #ginger on Instagram (as redheads regularly do, right?), I came across the ‘Redhead Project‘. Gingers posing in simple white shirts to highlight their gorgeous ginger hair, and another shot of them to portray their personality: flowers, wine or playing a guitar.
The idea is inspired. I had never before seen such a cool collection of redhead photography. I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of, so I contacted Keith Barraclough, creator of the Project.
Ginger Parrot’s writer Molly, by Keith Barraclough for the Redhead Project
Keith takes great care and joy in taking photos of redheads and has shot over 170 portraits already. I met with him on a pier to shoot, carrying some of my favourite things: my tennis racquet and balls, a pearl necklace, my flower blouse, my white blouse, and of course, my out-of-control curly ginger hair!
But aside from having my photograph taken, I decided to get to know Keith and learn all about the Redhead Project.
Why did you start the Redhead Project?
I got the idea for it about 2 1/2 years ago while processing images of an executive who had red hair and piercing blue eyes. I was struck by the contrast of the subject’s features against the white Oxford he was wearing and the light seamless backdrop.
I thought that a series of redheads wearing white against a white seamless would make an interesting personal project that would be a tool for marketing my portraiture to new clients.
The scope, concept and reach of the project have evolved since then, and social media, especially Instagram, have all helped to propel interest. But at the beginning of their photoshoots, all redheads wear white, like the corporate executive who unwittingly inspired it.
What is your favourite thing about the Project?
Each photoshoot is a collaborative process and there is always an element of surprise going into each shoot, since I never know what each redhead will bring in terms of wardrobe, props and personality.
I shoot tethered to the computer so we can periodically review the images together and come up with ideas of how to use the clothes and props in creative and unique ways. And by working together to orchestrate the direction of the photoshoot, such as the look and feel of the images, and by jointly editing down the images, subjects who are not accustomed to professional photo shoots are able to relax and let their natural personalities shine through.
What have you discovered about redheads after shooting over 170 of them?
Most of the redheads I’ve met are very confident and self-assured. Many say that they were teased when a child and didn’t like their hair or freckles but they now embrace them.
Do you shoot on location in a studio or do you shoot elsewhere?
Most of the redheads are photographed at my SoHo studio in Manhattan. But we have organised photoshoots in other locations, including Boston, Orlando, Los Angeles, New Hampshire, Providence, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Vermont.
We are currently planning to organise several all-day photoshoots in Savannah, GA, Orlando, FL, and West Palm Beach, FL in late December. We are constantly fielding interest and inquiries from redheads in other cities who follow us on Instagram.
Are you a redhead or do you have any redheads in your family?
No, I am not a redhead and redheadedness does not run in my family. And I only knew a couple of redheads when I started the project.
What have been some of the most exciting redhead shoots?
The best shoots are the ones where redheads brings props that are interactive – food is always fun. One redhead brought sprinkles and we incorporated them in some great personality shots.
I also think it is fun to combine interests in one portrait: one redhead wore her rugby outfit and jumped while playing her violin.
What do you enjoy photographing (besides redheads!)?
I particularly enjoy shoots that are collaborative and have an element of unpredictability, whether I’m working with animals, subjects who have never been in a photoshoot before or who don’t feel comfortable being photographed. I’m often told that I have a knack for putting subjects at ease in front of the camera.
I love photographing animals, especially dogs (for the past three years I have been the lead photographer for Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl), and I am a National Geographic Creative photographer and love shooting landscapes, architecture, and fine art.
How can other gingers get involved with the Redhead Project?
The only requirement is being a natural redhead. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The project is ongoing.