Thomas Knights made waves in 2014 with the release of his Red Hot photo series which celebrates the natural beauty of redheads and is back for 2017 with its first (and hottest ever) nude calendar.
Now, for the first time in its history, Knights and co-collaborator Elliott James Frieze have curated a series of art prints from their recent Red Hot II collection into a bespoke exhibition of the most stand-out images, being showcased at Beers London this week. We caught up with the London-based photographer to find out more…
What was the original intention behind the original Red Hot calendar?
The first calendar was way back in 2014 and set out to challenge peoples perceptions of redhead men with a series of portraits taken from the Red Hot 100 exhibition. Since then, the calendars have progressively got more and more sexy as we found out what the audience wanted. 2017 was our first nude calendar – I don’t think there has ever been a ginger nude male calendar before, so it was also a ‘world first’. We want to raise as much as we can for our charity partner The Diana Awards, so we needed to up our game to stand out.
What’s the process for sourcing your models? Are all of the redheads you photograph professional models or are they everyday guys?
Instagram is our main way of finding people – some are professional models but most are regular guys from around the world who we approach and often they come over to to shoot with us in London. For Red Hot II we organised about 120 models from all over for 10 consecutive weeks in London – it was a logistical nightmare!
Red Hot is embracing and encouraging diversity and new beauty standards. Are there any plans to include other diverse characteristics?
Yes, in fact we plan to expand the message this year to different types of alternative beauty – you don’t have to be ginger to be ‘Red Hot’ – its about a feeling, a moment in the zeitgeist of pop culture. Its about being proud to be different – whatever difference that is. The calendar is focused more on pale skin and freckles, but our book ‘Red Hot II’ has a much wider view and looks deeper into the issues associated with redhead by their accompanying quotes next to the images.
Many young redheads face bullying as children and young people, but fully embrace their characteristics as adults. Do you think is becoming more typical from an early age nowadays?
I think we are finally in the beginnings of a culture that celebrates being different. The internet plays a huge part in this, where disenfranchised young people -(and adults) find each other and form a confidence in what makes them unique. Its still really hard to not fit in with the norm, but at least there are communities and pockets of subcultures that have a visible presence that gives people a strength they might not have had before.
How else do you think ginger stereotypes should be challenged?
We have made a big play to highlight the beauty of redheads pale skin this year – its one of the reasons behind the nudity – to really show off their porcelain skin and present it in an empowered way. The calendar is focused more on pale skin and freckles, but our book ‘Red Hot II’ has a much wider view and looks deeper into the issues associated with redhead by their accompanying quotes next to the images.
The 2017 calendar has a more classically artistic theme in comparison to last year’s – how do you think this is going to be received?
I think the nude factor has gone down really well! The photography is a lot darker and more moody than before, but it works with the context of presenting the models like ancient Greek gods.
Red Hot has managed to raise over £45,000 for various charities, what is the next step within this project?
We plan to tour the exhibition to the US, Germany and Australia this year. We have also just released our first underwear, and we plan to expand this range into more styles and swimwear this year.
Who have been your favourite models to shoot?
Nicola Roberts has been an amazing supporter and a dream to shoot: her skin is ice white and she has a classic English Rose beauty about her.
Some of the models are seen wearing official Red Hot underwear; will readers be able to get their hands on a pair of these?
Yes they are available now for £20 from redhot100.com/shop and we are running a January sale with 25% off using the product code REDHOT2017 at the checkout!