Julia Baum currently maintains a blog for her photo series, A Rare Breed, where she posts new images and provides a place for redheads worldwide to connect. A Rare Breed was recently displayed as a solo exhibition at the NY Studio Gallery in September, 2008 and is now showcased online in Wassenaar Magazine. Born in Rochester, New York and currently living in Brooklyn, New York, Julia Baum received a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in 2005. Her work has been shown in New York, Rochester, Chicago, and Shanxi, in China.
How did you find your subjects for this project?
‘When I started this project, I didn’t know anyone other than myself with red hair, so I got my first models from ads I posted on Craigslist and another useful site called Modelmayhem. Now I get referrals to friends of friends and things like that, as well. Redheads have also started contacting me to be included in the series. It seems like redheads who come across the work are happy to feel a sense of community’.
Is there something unexpected that you found all of your subjects have in common?
‘Before I started meeting so many redheads, I had a theory that our red hair plays a big role in who we are, and that it’s more than just part of our appearance. Now that I’ve had the chance to talk with so many redheads, I think my theory has been agreed upon unanimously. It’s fun to share experiences and find we have so much in common just because of our hair color’.
What made you decide to change direction and switch from shooting landscapes to shooting portraits?
‘I think my suburban landscape pictures and redhead portraits actually have a lot in common. With the landscapes, I was focused on the facade of people’s homes and what it said about who lived inside. I looked at the exteriors of each home as a description of the owners and how they chose to visually express themselves in their community. The redhead pictures are about how one’s outside appearance affects the inside. I never thought of myself as only a landscape photographer – landscape just happened to be the best way for me to pictorially express the ideas I had at the time. Now images of redheads are doing that best for me. I’ve been more interested in the duality of interior/exterior as a theme rather than any particular subject matter’.
How do you go about putting people at ease when photographing them?
‘The most important element of keeping my subjects at ease is being at ease myself. That part isn’t hard because I’m always excited to meet each redhead and we usually have a lot to talk about. I give basic guidelines on how to stand in front of the camera and tell them when something they’re doing looks really good. Positive feedback usually goes a long way. Also, all of my subjects are volunteers – usually because they’re excited about the project, so they’re happy to be a part of it’.