Houston photographer Ray Redding likes to give himself a project every now and then, focusing on things that he’s curious or interested in. This time around? Beards.
Redding’s Hair-Raisers exhibit, which features 23 portraits of people with beards, is currently on display at FotoFest 2016 Biennial until April 24.
The project, however, is not to get confused with the “hipster beard,” which Redding says “has been cover quite extensively.” Instead, he photographed individuals in and around the city that follow a non-traditional path and use facial hair as part of their individual style and personal identity.
The project first began with pictures of Redding’s friends but then grew with the help of referrals. His most memorable of the bunch was Berlin Nicholas of Manready Mercantile. “This guy and his girlfriend were the absolutely most stylish people…and he had this beard,” Redding recalls of first meeting Nicholas. “I thought, ‘Oh, Gosh! I gotta have him in my project!’”
Like Redding’s encounter with Nicholas, getting others to strut their beard for the camera was always an easy task. The photographer has yet to hear a “no” from his subjects. “What I would do is show people shots I have so far, and they kind of sold themselves on being involved,” says Redding.
He plans to make “Hair-Raisers” an evergreen project, hoping to add photographs of James Harden of the Rockets and Billy Givens from ZZ Tops. “I’ve just met so many cool people and had such a good time doing it,” says Redding. “It’s kind of the project that keeps on giving.”
He also encourages anyone to partake in the hairy venture. “Let’s set up a date and shoot. I’m always out there, trolling and looking,” Redding laughs.
Now through April 24. Liberty Station, 2101 Washington Ave. Monday–Thursday from 4 p.m.–2 a.m.; Friday from 2 p.m.–2 a.m., and Saturday–Saturday from 12 p.m.–2 a.m. fotofest.org.