British photographer Brock Elbank is halfway through his two-year photo project to create vivid portraits of people with freckles. Having photographed 90 subjects already, Elbank is aiming to collect 150 portraits before he exhibits his celebration of freckles in 2017.
When Elbank was living in Sydney he met his friend’s son Eddie at a football match. Eddie had a face full of the most freckles Elbank had ever seen. “He was a great-looking character,” Brock tells BuzzFeed, “so I asked John if I could shoot a portrait and that was the start of the idea in early 2012.”
Elbank started #Freckles full-time in mid-2015 after he had moved back to the UK.
“I’ve always loved freckles,” says Elbank. “What I find interesting about individual characters that I have been fortunate enough to photograph is that many have struggled with their freckles since their infancy and either hated them, or grown to live with them or even like them in adulthood.”
“Many of the subjects shot so far are such incredible-looking humans … amazing-looking individuals from all walks of life. People really are the most incredible subjects to photograph. Each time I travel on the London underground I see dozens of individuals I would love to photograph.”
Elbank is often asked what photographic process he uses to create such vivid and unique portraits. “My process is simple,” he says. “I don’t use UV lights or any gimmicks, I have a post-production process that takes about four hours per portrait.”
Elbank even did an interview in France where they sent his photos to a cosmetic company to verify their authenticity. “What would be the point of doing a freckles series with people without freckles?” says Elbank. “You simply have to look at their Instagram feeds to see how freckly they are!”
While working with his freckly subjects, Brock heard many stories of how they hated their freckles as children and were teased at school for their appearance, with some girls covering them up with makeup. “This is what fascinates me when photographing people: what they’ve struggled with through life. This is what I tend to find beautiful and striking in a person.
“One subject I shot in September for the series spent a good three to four hours with me after the portrait, talking about how they felt as a kid, bullied, rejected at school for their appearance, which really shocked me as I found this individual amazing-looking.”
Elbank is still looking for subjects to take part in his #Freckles photo project, which is being shot in London. If you’re interested, you can apply by emailing him (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a “very clear, straight-on, passport-style colour photo, with no makeup.” You can follow Elbank and his project on Instagram.