Wednesday, 1 July 2015
100 Beards is Three
Three years ago today I started a project which grew into something far beyond anything I could have imagined. On July 1st 2012 I set myself a challenge of finding and photographing a new bearded man every day for 100 days. Back then, the challange was in fact quite challenging, as the number of men with beards has exponentially grown since. At the time, I wanted to start a project to document a trend and liked the idea of beards because it was more about the individual then an aquisition. During the process I ended up meeting guys who are now my best mates, like Terry and Chris from Sartorial 7, and discovering talent on the verdge of their big break: Ricki Hall and Chris John Millington to name the obvious ones.
By day 50 of the project, the men I stopped to photograph were referencing my blog, using it as inspiration and saying they were already fans. It was a strange and exciting time. By the end of the 100 Days I'd been offered exhibitions in London, Edinburgh and Austria, and a book deal, which came together by December of that year. One hell of a rollercoaster ride!
In this short period of time we've come full circle. At first people told me I was mad for chosing such a small niche to shoot. By the end of that year the rise of the beard has reached epic proportions and by summer 2013 I couldn't walk down a single street of London without seeing at least 5 men attempting to become more hirsute. Of course like any trend, the press are keen to call it's demise first and by 2014 "peak beard" had arrived and we were told to go clean shaven ASAP. I'm not sure if that demand has been answered fully yet but I've certainly seen a shift in the landscape. For the men who spent months growing and grooming their facial hair, this was not a trend but a transition in style. Others may have shaved since but for most of the men I met, growing a beard was a transformative experience in many ways. I'm proud to have documented a time which saw mascilinity celebrated. Since that first 100 days I photographed bearded men wherever I travelled and the result is my book '100 Beards' which has the original 100 portraits plus 100 from Miami, Berlin, Milan, Paris, New York and many other cities around the world. Whether it's a "trend" that's "over" or not has no importance, for me it's about the situation, the time and the individual captured in that moment.
You can still order copies of the book online here at 100Beards.com.