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Alyson Fox’s Book of Portraiture

BY erica 09/19/2011

It could have been a cheesy idea: The Austin-based jewelry designer and overall creative powerhouse wanted to shoot a series of portraits of women wearing red lipstick. But the first 20 thoughtful, subtle, and intimate photographs quickly sold her (and her husband, who told her she was onto something) and eventually led to a book deal from Chronicle Books—the results of which, A Shade of Red, came out this month. Here, a look at the process and some of the images that have made the biggest impression on Alyson.

 



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“I photographed three of my friends [including Amanda, pictured above] just to see what it was going to be like. From there, it spread like wildfire. My friends would get me in touch with their friends, or their grandmas or aunts, and they would lead me to more people. I started this project to become a better photographer. I hadn’t done portraits that much, and most of these women never had their portraits taken. I had a little rule that I didn’t spend longer than an hour and fifteen minutes with every woman.”
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“I photographed a hundred and thirty women, and a hundred are in the book. My very favorite is Joy. I think I’m mostly drawn to older women’s portraits in general because there are so many stories to them. You can make an older woman look interesting without even having to try, because they just look so awesome.”

 



“After the first dozen or so, I really got to thinking about the connotations of lipstick—the way we view identity. That’s where the book took shape. I got a little worried that maybe the book wouldn’t be that interesting. I really wanted just the women’s first names. I wanted it to be pretty mysterious for people. This is Ruby. You can’t tell if she’s about to squeeze that fake bird or not. And that look of hers—it’s silly.”

 

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