Project Statement 'Elusive Beauty'
They'll likely be extinct in the next 100 years: red haired children.
At least that rumor goes around, like multiple stories, facts and myths about red haired people.
For several years I’ve been photographing children with red hair. I’ve found and portrayed them in The Netherlands, The United States and Ireland.
Af first I was intrigued by the extraordinary looks of these children. Especially the children, because they're still young, not aware of their looks and very pure and natural. Their orange-red hair, their pale skin with clusters of freckles and their bright, light eyes are just breath taking and magical to me. At times they even seem to be translucent.
Later I learned more about red haired people in general and got more fascinated by this specific MC1R-gene. For centuries they are world-wide in the interest and that is not surprising, when you consider that only two percent of the human population carries this unique red head gene.
This world-wide interest wasn't (and isn't) always positive. In the Middle Ages they were thought to be vampires, werewolves, and bewitched. In those days, red heads often died at the stake. Some people say they have hot tempers and extreme sex drives. Others say they are acutely sensitive to pain. Also many red heads have undergone “ginger “ discrimination and bullying. As recently as 2011, one of the largest sperm banks (Cryos in Denmark) closed it's doors to donors with red hair, because of the low demand for children carrying this rare gene.
I know that red haired people don't want to be examined as special, different or exotic. They don't want to be stereotyped, even fetishized. I understand their skepticism. Although people nowadays see the beauty of their looks, they're a group with a history of bullying and abuse, all because of the hair color.
I approach my red haired models with respect and honesty and I photograph their mystical and powerful appearance in a setting of my own choosing. Next to my portraits, I’m seeking to discover the truth behind the myths. If it's true that they're threatenend with extinction, I might even photographed history.