Joel Meyerowitz on redheads
“It was in 1978, during my first summer of making portraits while using an 8x10 inch large format camera, that I found myself drawn to photographing redheads.
I have often been asked; ‘why redheads,’ and I’ve often felt it was because in summer redheads seem to bloom in the sun more gloriously than the rest of us. Redheads, like film itself, are transformed by sunlight.
I ran an ad in the local paper, the Provincetown Advocate: “REMARKABLE PEOPLE! If you are a redhead or know someone who is, I’d like to make your portrait, call…” They began coming to my deck, bringing with them their courage and their shyness, their curiosity and their dreams, and they shared their stories of what it was like to be a redhead. They spoke of the painful remembrances of childhood, the violations of privacy and name calling―“Hey, red,” “freckle face,” “carrot head.” They also shared with me their sense of personal victory at having overcome this early, unwanted celebrity, and how like giants or dwarfs or athletes they had finally grown into their specialness and by surviving had been ennobled by it. You could say that they had been baptized by their own fire, and that their shared experience had formed a “blood knot” among them. I had begun making portraits with the intention of photographing ordinary people. But redheads are both ordinary and special.
Their slender slice of the genetic pie accounts for only 2 or 3 percent of the world’s population. As different as redheads are in terms of nationality and religion, they often give the appearance of a strong familial connection.”