I've always had a bit of a fascination with redheaded folk, but it wasn't until the past few years that I began to focus on the bearded variety. It happened in an instant. It was one of those euphoric moments, where everything is magic.
I was at Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma, California. Some friends and I had ventured north to swing by the brewery for a flight of beers, and then proceed on to a corn maze. There was live music, people dancing, and then I saw him. A redbeard so distinguished and prominent that I was forced to gape in wonder. I eyed him for a bit, pointed him out to my friends, then made some creepy attempts to take a photograph of his magnificence.
The spotting of this man is what began my quest to capture ginger beards of the world. He set the standard. I wish so badly that I could go back in time and get a better picture, perhaps interview him a little, really just a get a sense of how he feels about his impressive bristles. Just looking at that thing, you can tell it's been loved. He definitely grooms it, maybe oils it even.
Anyway, seeing this guy was a total Baader-Meinhof situation for me (Baader-Meinhof = when a thing you just found out about suddenly seems to pop up everywhere). I started seeing redbeards constantly. And eventually, I began collecting them. Now I'm living in Paris, France, traveling often, and there are beards of rouge wherever I look. I must say, it's far more awkward to ask someone if I can take a photo of their beard in my broken French ("Je peux prendre une photo de votre barbe rousse?"), but I'm getting better.