How can the hair color unite nations? Scottish
photographer Kieran Dodds created portraits of gingers
at almost identical latitudes but separated by
hundreds of miles – in Scotland and Russia.
| «Gingers, they tell us, are stupid, ugly or degenerate. It's a recessive gene so by extension we are mutants in the bad sense. Not in the mutant hero, super-powered, X-men style mutants. If we could do that stuff no one would mess with us. All we can do is look great and reflect the sun with our porcelain skin», Kieran is argueing.
Being a red-haired himself, the author of the project was always interested in asking what is
so special, or not, about being ginger in Scotland today.
In 2014, he embarked on the series of portraits depicting red-haired people in Scotland where it
is a cliche of national identity.
Scotland has the highest percentage of ginger people in the world. Recently it was announced that Edinburgh is the world capital of ginger hair with 40% of the population carrying the gene. Only 13% actually have the blessed hair so it's are still a small minority and a group that needs documented.
After examining some documentation referred to the topic, photographer decided to expand the scope of his project. Kieran find out that Russia (the Udmurt Republic to be precised) is surprisingly the second country with the highest frequency of read hair in Europe. That fact meant that two regions increasingly at odds politically, however, could be connected somehow. So the author headed to the country, he had never been before, in order to take portraits of Russian gingers, which would become the evidence base for the above mentioned reaserch.
The trip was successfull and in 2017 Russian Gingers series, consisting of more than 40 portraits, was released.
«There was a one hour slot for shooting of each portrait. Kieran talked a lot with every ginger about his or her special hair color, how it effects our lives, and, actually, tried to get to know us better. Kieran is very easygoing, and, thanks to him, I was feeling comfortable in front of the camera lens, calm and confident, even though I am not likely to trust a person that I've just met.
It used to be a lot of offence because of my unusual appearance, that was embarassing. But now it's different: I am proud of being ginger, this hair color makes me feel feminine and flamboyant.
Like many women I have rather complicated relations with my hair. It's an emblematic story. Cutting them off means getting rid of something bad in your life. Like... two years ago I shaved half a meter of my hair with a trimmer. And I am still having a dream to shave clean my temples and to color my hair in ash blond, but I am hold on».
(on the left)
(on the left)
«Ginger color is always an increased attention. Me and my sister have always been receivemg a lot of comliments, especially when we are somewhere together. But, generally, your success does not depend on the color of your hair or the other physical factors, because, in my opinion, personality itself, with its roots in the family, is the thing that makes us really attractive.
Even though, when we were little, the other children were giving us bad names, thinking that being blond would be better for me, I did not listen to them. Our parents were always saying that we are beautiful and unique».
«That shooting with Kieran was an incrediable experience. First of all, because of the photographer of a cosmic level. Expensive equipment or light does not matter in this case, the mastery lies in his attitude to the model, how he behave with a person, who he has never seen before. Fortunately, I know english rather good, so me an Kieran finished each other's sentences. After the shooting we speak on the unrelated themes, especially regby: Kieran was born and raised in Scottland, where regby is a national sport, and I, in turn, is playing the same kind of sport here in Perm.
It's hard to say whether my hair color helps me in my life or not. But it is definitely a social marker that stands me out of the crowd. My childhood passed in a blocky neighbourhood, where no one wanted to distinguish oneself. That's why a lot of nicknames connected with by hair color, offensive and not so, appeared. Later I've started to realise my specialness. And it seems to me now that ginger color causes more sympathy and positive attitude».