• July 6, 2015

Freckles Like Veils of Stars

Alexa Keefe

People have always been Fritz Liedtke’s favorite subjects. He was out to dinner several years ago when he was taken with one of his dining companions, a woman with “amazing freckles.” Liedtke asked if he could take her photograph, which he did under the light of a neon sign in front of the restaurant. “It was one of the most beautiful photographs I had taken all year,” he says of the moment that launched him on a search for more freckled faces to photograph.

Portrait of a woman with freckles

Liedtke is interested in making beautiful images, and for him, freckles are beautiful. But, as we all know, beauty is subjective. Look up the word “freckle” in the thesaurus and you will get one or two sweet-sounding words in the list of synonyms, like “beauty mark” and “daisy.” But the majority are not sweet, such as “flaw,” “blotch,” and “mark.”

Portrait of a little girl with freckles

As Liedtke began talking with and photographing more friends and acquaintances who shared this prominent feature, he wasn’t surprised to discover that many held deep-rooted beliefs about this feature he found so captivating. One loved her freckles, recalling them being referred to by her parents as “angel kisses.” Another remembered as a child being asked by her grandmother to wash up for dinner after playing outside, then crying when her grandmother asked her to go wash again, having mistaken her freckles for dirt.

Portrait of a woman with freckles

It was this story that formed the conceptual basis for Liedtke’s work—creating something beautiful from what some perceive as a flaw. “We spend so much time in our culture trying to make things look pretty and uniform in a particular way that the skin that shows off its texture isn’t shown that often. We’ve built a culture where having something different about yourself isn’t necessarily valued.”

Portrait of a woman with freckles

But the narrative is only part of it. The real magic, the “wow” factor that takes your breath away, comes from the presentation, which elevates these portraits to a visually arresting level. “There’s a lot of emphasis in the photography world on conceptual work, which I appreciate,” he says. “But often times I think it’s really valuable to just enjoy something that is beautiful.”

Portrait of a woman with freckles

Liedtke had a sense of the look he was going for—the tone that comes from antique processes like tintypes, where the blue-sensitive emulsion brings out oranges and reds, which puts textures of the skin in relief. He spent months playing around with tintypes as well as platinum and palladium printing. All the while, in the back of his mind, was something he had come across while studying printmaking in college—a process used by turn of the 19th century photographers like Edward Curtis and Alfred Stieglitz, called photogravure.

Portrait of a little girl with freckles

As soon as he saw the first print roll off the press during a weekend photogravure workshop, he knew his portraits had found their medium. From here, securing an artist’s residency gave him use of a printmaking studio with the necessary space and materials. Though he is by his own admission “not a process person,” photogravure is most definitely process-intensive. He gives a very thorough explanation here, but in short: A toned digital file is printed onto a film medium. This positive image is exposed onto a plate. The plate is engraved with the image through a development process. Once it is wiped with special inks, the plate is ready to be printed. Employing a process called “chin-colle,” Liedtke then places a piece of dampened translucent rice paper directly over the plate, sprinkles the back of it with wheat starch to make a glue, then places another piece of paper on top. This sandwich of sorts is run through the printing press, embossing and affixing the paper.

Portrait of a woman with freckles

Not surprisingly, in this intensive, hands-on process “there are a hundred ways things can go wrong” as an image makes its way to the final print. But the result is stunning. The warm tone of the rice paper accentuates the skin tone while the white paper underneath creates a luminosity that is, well, celestial. Each print is unique and bears the marks of having been processed by hand, as beautifully imperfect and textured as the human face.

Portrait of a woman with freckles

Liedtke named this collection of portraits Astra Velum, which means “veil of stars.” They exist as individual prints, as a boxed set, and as a handmade book. The photographs have also been exhibited in galleries, including twice in China. Liedtke recalls a moment a few years ago when a Chinese woman approached him after having seen his show and through a translator said, “I’ve never really thought of myself as beautiful. I have all these freckles. But now that I’ve seen these I think I probably am beautiful.”

“That’s the best payoff right there,” says Liedtke.

You can learn more about Astra Velum and Liedtke’s fine art projects here. His full professional portfolio can be accessed here.

There are 70 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Varun narwal
    May 11, 2016

    I love the sole & body physique of a girl not their skin if I got a chance I would love to kiss the first girl without any hesitation

  2. wes
    July 29, 2015

    great work. I love it

  3. John
    July 27, 2015

    Sheer beauty!

  4. Jane
    July 27, 2015

    I must object to the comment by Louise that freckles should not be glorified because they are caused by sun damage which is ‘tragic’. Yes they are caused by the sun, andI am covered in freckles and unless I had gone around my whole life covered up from head to toe there’s no way I could have avoided them as I am obviously genetically predisposed to them. I’m sixty one now and I have had them as long as I or anyone in my family can remember. My father had deep auburn hair which I wish I had inherited too!

  5. Nick
    July 27, 2015

    Extraordinary photos with souls.Beauty has new a new dimension.

  6. Vivian
    July 27, 2015

    No men? My son says he gets a tan when all his freckles come out join each other

  7. Kari
    July 27, 2015

    Stunning. An old cliché, but appropriate…
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  8. Gabriel
    July 26, 2015

    I go by the moniker “Ranking Freckleface” as my deejay/emcee name when selecting Jamaican records out in public. But I think that these women beautifully illustrate what it means to be a true “freckleface” : RIGHTEOUS!

  9. Gale O’Dell
    July 26, 2015

    Absolutely beautiful., everyone of these photos, beautiful. I also am blessed with many freckles. As a child I hated them. I was teased about them. My uncle quite often said I stood too close behind a cow. I didn’t really know what he meant until I was older. He was just teasing, but certainly not very nice. I don’t even notice my freckles anymore, but seeing these photos makes me love my freckles even more. Thank you Fritz

  10. PUGGSY
    July 26, 2015

    For Kimberley,
    July 7…Who in their right mind would give up a redhead with freckles…next time look for the ‘ inner’ man.

  11. John Harrison
    July 26, 2015

    Ladies, freckles are sexy – and don’t you forget it.

  12. Bruce D. Griffiths Sr.
    July 26, 2015

    When I was a young boy, there was a girl with freckles who lived a block away. My brother and I both had a crush on her. She grew up and away from us. I will never forget Arlene and how her freckles brought out the beauty of her eyes. Thanks for reminding us of how different we all are. Wonerful pictures.

  13. Louise
    July 26, 2015

    It is tragic to see these people whose skin is irreparably sun damaged.Skin cancer is preventable and no-one is ever immune. There are so many types of skin cancer that are triggered by the sun. Do not glorify freckles. Educate instead.

  14. Mikki
    July 26, 2015

    The exaggerated photo processing done to manipulate these beautiful women and their adorable freckles is grotesque.

  15. Karen
    July 26, 2015

    I love this piece on freckles. I have one of those faces, covered in freckles. As I child, I was embarassed. As a teen, I hid from others. Nice to see that freackles can be a thing of beauty.

  16. Satya
    July 26, 2015

    Freckles are like code. For those who can read it, there is a very unique and highly personal message there.

  17. Doc
    July 26, 2015

    I have always found freckles to be attractive. Red hair and freckles? Even better!

    For those that feel self-conscious about their freckles: You’re beautiful and a member of an exclusive “club.”

    Wear your Love like Heaven!

  18. Caitriona
    July 26, 2015

    I grew up teased and taunted for having freckles and while I didn’t hate them, the comments made me conscious and shy. As I’ve grown, I’ve grown to love them as part of me (unfortunately they’re not as vivid as yrs ago) and I now encourage my children to embrace their freckles and love what makes them unique!

  19. Leigh Garrett
    July 26, 2015

    My father had freckles all over his body, which gave him his nickname of “Speck.” It was the only name (other than Daddy) I knew for him when I was a child. He wore long-sleeved shirts all year long because he sunburned so quickly. My sister has two red-headed children; her daughter has beautiful freckles all over, which we have always admired.

  20. Jon A
    July 26, 2015

    Freckles is one of the most sexy thing on a woman´s body…

  21. Paula Bauer
    July 26, 2015

    I used to have a fair amount of freckles, but now I have old age spots. I want the freckles back.

    • Bob Meadows
      July 26, 2015

      To Paula Bauer.I understand your Feelings but as we get older there are a lot of things worse than age spots. Wear them proudly.

  22. Zandra
    July 26, 2015

    Freckles are brought out by the old haymaker. sunscreen and hat protect.

  23. Mr Bill
    July 26, 2015

    My wife has freckles, red hair, and fair complexion. We have been married 49 years and I cannot imagine her without the freckles. Even though they were much more prominent when we first met, I still love every one of them

  24. Matt Ovington
    July 22, 2015

    “A face without freckles is like a night without stars”

  25. Frank
    July 13, 2015

    My girlfriend, Michelle, has freckles on face and body…and I think she’s BEAUTIFUL!!

  26. CJC
    July 13, 2015

    I totally applaud Fritz Liedtke’s aim but, I’m really sorry, I just have to say that as a redhead myself and covered in freckles, everywhere, I loathe them with a passion and I still feel the same way after seeing these photos, especially of the ladies smothered in them (as I am) [as apposed to those with a picturesque smattering, such as ‘York’]. It is wonderful to hear some people find them ok, beautiful even, but living with them is truly awful, so I hope the exhibitions continue to raise positive comments. Thank you to the photographer and all the commenters who have said nice things about freckles and I’ll try to remember them the next time a child won’t come near me/hold my hand because “ugh! you’re covered in spots.”

  27. Heartbeat
    July 13, 2015

    Amazing Priceless beauty has in eyes specially in female family. All are looking smoke

  28. Bob Meadows
    July 12, 2015

    I don’t have freckles but since I can remember (I’m 71)have thought they were beautiful.Most of the people that had them that I tell did not like having them.Please feel good about yourself!

  29. Anna
    July 12, 2015

    This is truly beautiful and absolutely amazing.

  30. Jill
    July 10, 2015

    Beautiful ! I love my freckles more than ever now

  31. Jessica
    July 10, 2015

    I never thought anything of my freckles, they were simply that, freckles. I love my freckles and always have, however, I did not know people were bullied or treated as flawed because of them. That is absurd to me. I am one of the ladies in these photos and working with Fritz was amazing. He was very patient and reassuring as I am not a model lol. Anyway, I’m happy to have been involved in this statement for freckles and people who may have experienced insecurities due to them. I hope you can grow to love your freckles because they are great. Someone commented above that they hope these comments are being shared with us. I can speak for myself and say, yes they are and thank you all for your kind words.

  32. Albert Freeman
    July 9, 2015


    July 8, 2015

    very unique work. appreciate the hard work and specially the payoff received from the chinese woman. thats contributing to the society.

  34. Caroline
    July 8, 2015

    i have this crazy love for the stars, and i have always said my freckles are like the stars. i love this collection and i want him to take my photo.

  35. Wkingsboriugh
    July 8, 2015

    I heard once, “A woman without freckles is like a night without stars.”

  36. Abigail Swann
    July 8, 2015

    I’ve always been shy because of my freckles – I have them all over my face, arms, shoulders and back. When I was young they were much darker and obvious, I’ve been teased and bullied so many times. Thank you for making me feel less self-conscious about them!

    • Joan Churton
      July 8, 2015

      I am happy that you are happy that these photographs have made you less self-conscious of your freckles.

  37. Marcus Vinicius
    July 8, 2015

    Beautiful photographs. Beautiful beauty features for living in diversity and not in fads or prejudices.

  38. jordan
    July 8, 2015


  39. Anna F.
    July 8, 2015

    These photos are lovely – exquisite to see faces with the opposite of the false, smoothed out, made by photoshop/Botox look. The beauty you’ve captured I fear is disappearing in the dermatologists’ office, guided by a false sense of what is flawed, what is beautiful. I find these photos perfect examples of why women ought to embrace who they naturally are – humans really are lovely as is.

  40. W. Cleve Barkdull
    July 8, 2015

    Amazing photos. I hope that “you” are sharing these comments with these beautiful ladies, if not–“you” are a cad.

  41. david clawson
    July 7, 2015

    I myself have freckles upon freckles upon freckles. I like them best in natural tint but that’s awesome.

  42. Tim
    July 7, 2015

    My freckles make me unique. At times, when I was young I wished they would fade. Now at 40, I’m glad they stayed.
    Love the photographs. Keep up the great work showing the world beauty is everywhere.

  43. bibol
    July 7, 2015

    You have to see a white women in the flesh with beautiful skin with red hair and freckles

  44. mel cherry
    July 7, 2015

    I dont have freckles at all. But you know what I do have??? Tears down my cheeks that I shed every time I see something beautiful!!! Thank you for the pics and article. Thank you for reminding us all just how beautiful we are!!!!

    And yes, I really am that emotional!

  45. Lee Foster
    July 7, 2015

    stunning photographs, I was always told they were “kisses from the sun”, so was my husband. When he was a child his mum used to tickle his face with her finger tips & say she was freckle picking. We now do this to our two girls they love it and find it really relaxing. I love freckles!

  46. Ankita
    July 7, 2015

    I have lots of freckles . have felt embarrassed many times. People used to pass wierd comments. Seeing this motivated me. Wish be part too

  47. Chere
    July 7, 2015

    I am a redhead with freckles .In our community it was seen as beauty. In the USA it was seen as a defect. I changed my haircolor for years to blonde to be accepted. I finally went back to my naturally curly red hair after I divorced my husband. I felt more authentic. If I could send a message to my younger self I would say embrace yourself you are beautiful just the way you are. My grandmother said my freckles were angel kisses..she was so right!

  48. Shazza
    July 7, 2015

    Our daughter had beautiful freckles as a child and we told her they were like stars in a constellation brought to earth for us to enjoy day and night.

  49. Lydia Baker-Gregory
    July 7, 2015

    When I was little I hated my freckles because no one else had them… but then I grew up and came to embrace them because they made me unique. I get lots of compliments on them all the time and I would LOVE to be photographed like the models in this article. Sans makeup though, so that they really shine.

  50. K
    July 7, 2015

    My dad used to tell me about the freckles on my face and body that I looked like I ate a dollar bill and broke out in pennies.

  51. Kimberly
    July 7, 2015

    I am a red head with freckles on most every part of my being. I never liked them. I take pictures of myself and try to disguise the freckles. Being a redhead with freckles caused me to be bullied and called horrible names. I still feel ashamed of my freckles. These photos are beautiful. I wish I was confident enough to expose my freckles like these beautiful subjects.

  52. dana
    July 7, 2015

    Did you know? ?? The way to count freckles. ..it’s easy. Get one square inch of skin and measure how much room there is that’s not freckled! My best friend told me that’s how they measured then in New York when she was a model there. I think it’s a flawed technique but much easier than counting them:)

  53. Candice Pool
    July 7, 2015

    Thank you for showing me the beauty of freckles. I am a freckled person who has been shy of a camera my whole life. You made me feel pretty.

  54. Caroline Milam
    July 6, 2015

    Freckles are a road map of your ancestry. Each one is like a moment from the past that is peeking through to the future. I love my freckles, and all the photos here, and those found in our family albums.

  55. Igor
    July 6, 2015

    The beauty is in the eyes of the one who is watching. It is writen in the gospel and it is true.

  56. Jessica Beisel
    July 6, 2015

    These are just awe-inspiring and so incredibly touching.
    I’ve been embarrassed by my freckles and been made fun of for it, growing up.
    -My mom also told me they we’re angel kisses!
    I truly enjoy this, and as an artist myself, I appreciate the work you put into all this FRITZ <3

  57. Eric Benson
    July 6, 2015

    Stunning photographs and a compelling article. Thanks for sharing both with us.

  58. BillRob
    July 6, 2015

    I’m 75 and new freckles are appearing almost daily. Some people say they are “liver spots”, but because of this photo essay I will choose to say they are freckles(just indulge an old man, please) and consider them marks of distinction. Thank you!

  59. sandih
    July 6, 2015

    Mistakes?! How in the world can you call something different than what you have a mistake, Camila? Awfully presumptuous of you.

  60. Christine Tamere champagne
    July 6, 2015

    Always used to wear cover up to cover my sun spots, recently I’ve began to embrace them and their uniqueness!! I love what this photographer had done, so much beauty in every picture!!

  61. Chelsea Kasmiskie
    July 6, 2015

    I love my freckles, so much that it saddens me that some are covered by tattoos . Beautiful photographs!

  62. Kathleen Lusty
    July 6, 2015

    None of us has any control over the way God made us. We are all perfect and unique in our own right. I greatly enjoyed all of these beautiful pictures.

  63. Jacques
    July 6, 2015

    They are beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

  64. krystin
    July 6, 2015

    Freckles are beautiful period.

  65. Misti Garrison
    July 6, 2015

    I think these photographs are gorgeous. I too have an abundance of freckles.

  66. Camila Sinisterra
    July 6, 2015

    Eventhough I do not have freckles in that amount, it is easy to feel empathetic with these girls. Not everyone have those “mistakes” and make them work. Great job!

  67. Charles Tryon
    July 6, 2015

    Amazing work, and a very well written article. I’ve been following Fritz’s work for some time now, and he has an amazing eye for seeing beauty in the people and places that others would consider flawed or ordinary. Happy to see him featured here!

  68. Joan Churton
    July 6, 2015

    These photograhs bring the art of photography to a whole new level. Thank you, they are beautiful

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