These Guys Heart Pink: What One Quirk Photographer Has Been Up To

Posted by Rick Chillot

February is the pinkest month, thanks to Valentine’s day. But photographer Dustin Fenstermacher—supplier of eye-popping images for the Quirk titles How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity and the award-winning How to Make Your Baby an Internet Celebrity—seems determined to make pink a fashionable choice all year round.

Because he’s teamed up with designer and photography consultant Neil Binkley to create a photo series that we think features some of his best non-cat non-baby work ever.

The duo call their project Sweatz, and if you think it’s mostly about dressing people up in pink sweat suits and photographing them…well sure, that’s a big part of it.

But the purpose, according to the series website, is to “Have different people wear the exact same pair of unflattering sweatsuits—size ladies' large—to somehow focus on our differences and similarities in some kind of kumbaya moment of anti-fashion sensibility.”

Binkley, who first approached Fenstermacher with the project and concept, adds, “When people are dressed alike, you start noticing differences in body shapes, hair color, facial expressions, even their environment.”

For example, until I saw him in the picture above, I never noticed that Doogie Horner (100 Ghosts author, and provider of the design and illustrations for Kid Presidents as well as our above-mentioned Cat and Baby books) is bearded.

Their pinkalicious initiative was originally conceived as a one-day creative project, but after the first batch of photos, word of mouth spread and more people wanted to participate, says Binkley. So the project is ongoing. Apparently there’s something appealing about being photographed in unflattering pink sweats. “I was surprised that people didn’t seem to question this ridiculous idea we proposed…” he notes. “Most of these people are not often in front of a camera, and I think the sweats are like a Halloween costume. Kind of like when a child puts on a mask and suddenly feels emboldened or less self-conscious.”

Want to experience the power of the pink for yourself? You can contact the Sweatz team via their website, Be aware that you won’t get to keep those comfy outfits, though. Binkley and Fenstermacher only have two pair (which do get washed in between photo shoots). “They were ridiculously hard to find,” says Binkley. “Most pink sweatpants at retail stores are more fashionable, or ‘yoga pants,’ and we wanted sweats that pretty much removed flattery form the equation.”

That said, you’ll have to admit the folks in these sweats look pretty good.

Rick Chillot

Rick Chillot

RICK CHILLOT is a former baby and current writer and editor at Quirk Books. He has contributed to magazines such as Psychology Today, Parenting, Mental Floss, and Prevention. In his twenty-plus years in publishing he’s interviewed about a jillion scientists and doctors and therefore had no need to consult any of them for this book.