Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Redheads by Joel Meyerowitz

Super Labo recently reissued a book of Joel Meyerowitz's 1991 collection of portraits, 'Redheads.' All of his subjects are redheads (clearly) and they really are quite something. From the book,

"Photographing redheads was so compelling that I cast my net even wider. 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 also their stories of what it is like to be redheaded. There were the painful remembrances of childhood, the violations of privacy—"Hey, 'Red'," "freckle face," "carrot head." They also shared with me their sense of personal victory at having overcome this early celebrity, how like giants or dwarfs or athletes they had grown into their specialness and, by surviving, had been ennobled by it. You could say that they had been baptized by their 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."

I never really had the painful redheaded experiences like those above, but I am interested in any bond--physical or otherwise-- that brings random people together in a general understanding. These little bonds are what make our silly New York world tick, leveling the playing field when we realize that, 'Oh! We both summer at the cape!' 'Seriously!? I grew up 10 miles from there!' 'Don't you hate shopping for pants with such a long inseam!? It's so frustrating!' It's a rare loveliness, isn't it? Watching those 'blood knots' form?

The book is worth your time, both for the conceptual insight from a group of people who make up less than 2% of the worlds population(!) and also for the sheer talent of Meyerowitz at capturing the human spirit so generously. More here.

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