||Natural red hair
Hanne van der Woude
As every first-year art student knows, red and green are complementary
colours and combining them produces huge optical impact. Put a red dot
on a green plane and something special happens: the image starts to move
In 2004, Hanne van der Woude eyed the landscape around Nijmegen
(a city in the east of the Netherlands, near the German border) with this knowledge in mind. She stood in the floodplain beside the River
Waal and thought how she could make the green washlands look even greener.
Her mind turned to redheads.
It was the start of a quest to find models
with red hair. To begin with, it wasn't easy. She started to hang around
outside primary schools and go up to people in the street; the search
gradually turned into obsession.
After reading in an English newspaper that people with naturally red hair
are a vanishing breed, Van der Woude got the idea of photographing as many
of them as possible and producing a book of the photographs.
Unlike the photographs in earlier books on this subject, such as the famous
Redheads by the American photographer Joel Meyerowitz (1991) and a book
with the same title by German photographer Uwe Ditz (2000), Van der Woude's
pictures are not simply straightforward portraits of people – often
children – with red hair and pale, freckled skin; Hanne van der
Woude remains true to her second love: the Dutch landscape.
She adopts a narrative, almost cinematic style that is very different
from the 'straight photography' of documentary photographers. Each photo-shoot
is carefully planned and prepared. Van der Woude travels far and wide
in search of the right setting. And during the shoot she uses artificial
lighting to bring out "the flamboyant qualities of redheads",
as Joel Meyerowitz puts it in his book.
— Wim van Sinderen
The pictures of 150 redheads throughout the Netherlands are published in the book MC1R – Natuurlijk rood haar. (MC1R is the gene that controls skin and hair colour). The accompanying texts are by Wim van Sinderen and Erik Sistermans.
Hanne van der Woude was one of three photographers chosen to represent the Netherlands this year at the nightlong projection of photographs from 27 European countries at the Rencontres Festival in Arles. Wim van Sinderen served as curator for the selections from the Netherlands.