American photographer Brian Dowling has been photographing redheads from across the world for the past three years. Now, he's combing his collection of images into a portrait photography book. The project is currently being funded via Kickstarter.
Dowling, who is now based in Berlin, traveled all over the globe to capture these stunning images of red hair across the world. Dowling captured 130 gingers from almost 20 different countries. The images serve as a captivating study of the differences — and similarities — of how the rare red hair gene manifests itself among a diverse range of nationalities.
For Dowling's images, no makeup artists or special lighting was used. Additionally, Dowling used minimal Photoshop in order to truly capture what makes red hair unique. "I wanted it to be obvious these photos are real reflections of the model and for people to end their stereotypes of redheads," said Dowling.
Dowling, an entertainment photographer, has captured many famous redheads. Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, Sophie Turner, and Julianne Moore have all been shot by Dowling. An image of Madelaine Petsch from Riverdale is the book's cover, however Dowling says the book, " is more focused on non-celebrity Redheads."
Once the book is published, Dowling plans on expanding his photo series into other countries. Dowling's short list included countries such as Brazil, Turkey and Israel. Because guess what? Redheads are everywhere and not just in Ireland!
Many people think of red hair as a phenomena that occurs mostly within the Irish and Scottish people — and there's a reason for that. Scotland holds the largest percentage of natural redheads, and Ireland has the second largest percentage. 13 percent of the Scottish population have naturally fiery hair, while 10 percent of the Irish people can boast about their auburn tresses.
Red hair is most common in those who come from northern or western European stock. Two to six percent of northern and western Europeans sport copper hued hair. However, redheads can sprout up across any ethnic background, although it is less common.
Why is red hair so rare? Ask the parents. Both parents must possess the mutated MC1R gene in order to be able to create ginger babies. There's only a 25 percent chance that someone carries this gene if they do not have red hair themselves.
The MC1R gene effects more than just hair color. Redheads have a greater sensitivity to ultraviolet light, which puts them at greater risk for skin cancer. Additionally, redheads are more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, plus they can internally produce their own Vitamin D. Is this a hair color or a superpower?
In addition to showing off the amazing coloring of redheads, Dowling also wants to use the book to celebrate copper tops. "Many of the traits redheads are made fun of — ginger hair, freckles and pale skin — are the same traits that make them beautiful," said Dowling. Dowling hopes that his project will also raise awareness of redhead bullying.
The women involved are proud to be part of the project. "I used to look at my red hair as a negative trait, but as I have gotten older I have embraced who I am. I love being part of a book that will show the world that redheads are proud of who they are," says Alina, one of Dowling's subjects.
One of the women photographed in the book was bullied in school for her hair color. While teased as a child, she eventually grew up to become a beauty queen, proving that kids can be cruel for no reason. "While it is common knowledge that bullying is a problem, I will have to admit I was still shocked that someone as kind and beautiful as her had a bullying problem in high school," says Dowling.