Have you ever had a true “once in a lifetime” experience? I’ve been blessed to have a few of those in my life so far. Visiting Israel. Giving birth to twins. 🙂 And most recently, we were honored to participate in a photo project with Keith Barraclough called The Redhead Project. This, my friends, is high on my list of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
A simple Facebook posting led us to e-mail conversations, a phone interview, then the shocking news that our family was scheduled for the Austin photo shoot. Based on the hundreds of comments seen on Facebook and Instagram, I had to assume many people were interested in participating in this. We couldn’t believe we’d been selected! What an honor! We arrived at the hotel, nervous but excited. This was a completely new experience, participating in a photo shoot that was more about art than simply capturing a family picture with all 5 of us smiling at the camera. Though we did get a great group shot of the 5 of us… 🙂
The Redhead Project captures the personalities of every redhead. The first portion of the shoot, we’d been instructed to wear all white so that the picture would focus on the red hair and the person’s face. The idea was for anyone looking at the photograph to wonder “Who is this person? What are they like?”. The next portion of the photos would capture each person’s personality more vibrantly, including props that would showcase our hobbies, interests, etc. Since the minimum age was 4, only Nick, Connor, and I were subjects. The girls ended up being very prominent “props”. LOL
I had previously spoken to Keith on the phone, and admitted about all I did in life is care for the kids, cook, and clean. So he’d suggested we show me as juggling all these aspects of my life. I thought this was a good idea. I’d borrowed a cute apron from my friend Abigail, and brought along some cooking gear and a few of my favorite books. After seeing the amazing pictures on Instagram of the other redheads, I’d started to feel uncertain. Everyone else seemed to have these cool, funny, sexy, and cute poses with interesting hobbies. I started to feel like I was pretty boring, yet this is indeed my life at the moment. I’m a mom. I have twin 3 year olds and I homeschool my 6 year old. My entire life revolves around my family, and I love it. I love to cook and I love my kids. I think our photos captured that very well. The experience also made me think hard about my identity (something I’ll blog about separately).
I want to stop here and say that Keith and his wife Kate are simply amazing. Prior to our meeting, I’d seen them in my mind as these famous photographers from NYC. Meeting them in person, they are warm and kind and totally down to earth and relaxed. We met at a beautiful Hilton right along the river in Austin, and our crew entered their hotel room like a herd of wild rhinos. Our kids don’t know a stranger. The girls especially just immediately ran in and began to explore and talk and make themselves right at home. I’m grateful at how easygoing both Keith and Kate were throughout the shenanigans of twin 3 year olds. It was as chaotic as you’d imagine, but Keith just calmly did his awesome photography and was super patient. I was so preoccupied with the girls’ behavior that I forgot almost all of my props (which had been meticulously packed in a bag and sat there by the door!), and even forgot to put on the makeup I’d brought along to wear after the natural pictures were done (including the brand new lipstick I’d spent WEEKS to find). Sigh. Of course when we were all done and I realized all this, I cried. I was mad at myself. Not only was I boring, but I couldn’t even remember to put on some lipstick. You’ve got to be kidding, right? 🙂
Nick and Connor did much better. Nick used his favorite collectible sword as a prop and a favorite Star Wars themed shirt. He truly had fun with the pictures, which was a joy to see. Connor picked out his own props and was very insistent about them. Keeping with the spirit of the project, I didn’t try to orchestrate anything. He is a huge Harry Potter fan and with the imagination of a 6 year old, he’d brought along the old broom he envisions as a Firebolt, and the other Quidditch props he absolutely insists are authentic. 🙂
I’m not going to lie; Nick and I were slightly mortified at the old beat up toys Connor packed along, but once again Keith was gracious as ever and embraced Connor’s vision for his photos. They spent a good bit of time capturing Quidditch action shots, which was so cool for Connor.
I absolutely love the pictures of Connor reading his book too.
A funny thing happened as Keith was trying to get the more serious photos from Connor: Connor was suddenly overcome with a sneeze attack. Which got captured on camera, and Connor thought that was just too fun. When he saw the picture of himself sneezing, he absolutely LOVED it. LOL!
Although the girls weren’t individual participants, they ended up in a lot of our pictures, and I had done their hair as soon as we’d arrived at the hotel. I think they purposely messed themselves up more than usual, because they look like wild Indians in most pictures. I just have to laugh. Here we are with an amazing professional photographer from New York CITY who has taken pictures for National Geographic for goodness sake, and my kids manage to be as messy as they could possibly be. 🙂
We had a great time though, and it was a very very cool experience. Being a family of 5 redheads, we get a little too much attention out in public and our kids are growing up thinking their red hair is the equivalent of a magical unicorn. So, they don’t exactly need the extra boost of confidence. 😉 However it’s still a special honor to celebrate this feature that such a small percentage of the world shares. It’s like being in a special club, the red hair club. It’s so awesome to see all of the redhead pictures Keith has taken, and I hope you’ll head on over to his Instagram page to take a look. Strawberry blondes, auburns, carrot tops, curly, straight, long, short, every type of redhead you can imagine is being represented. https://www.instagram.com/projectredhead/
When we received our pictures back from Keith and Kate, I really felt like we’d been given an incredible gift. This small window of time in our lives is so fleeting. We won’t always have this gangly 6 year old who just lost his first baby teeth and thinks a dollar store broom is as cool as a real Firebolt, who is still shorter than his mommy and can ride on his daddy’s shoulders. We won’t have these two rambunctious 3 year olds for long either. One day they won’t want to cling to their mommy 24/7 and be small enough for their daddy to scoop both up in his arms at once. There’s no glamour here. No flawless makeup, no sexy hair blowing in the wind, definitely no perfect kids with their hair in place and perfectly adorable outfits. But there’s a lot of love, a lot of joy, and a lot of beauty in our messiness.
I’ll cherish these photos for the rest of my life. And we’ll be forever grateful to be part of a project that celebrates being a ginger: what a fun and special memory for our kids! Thank you Keith for this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
*Please note that these photos have Keith’s watermark on them and absolutely must not be cropped, altered, or used in any way without permission. Thank you!