Barber shops are an odd institution. The concept of a man walking into a barber shop in order to kick back, relax, pontificate about sports or some other innocuous topic while getting a haircut or a shave, seems like something borrowed from a simpler time in America. A time when things moved slower and there were less phones, ipods, or other devices distracting us from the basic pleasure of a good conversation. Being a barber of course requires skill with a pair of scissors, but similar to a photographer, a barber needs to possess the ability to quickly judge a person’s interests and establish a natural rapport while they work. Not to mention, as a barber, you have to have to gain a man’s trust quickly if you’re going to propose holding a straight razor to his neck.
I recently worked on a shoot which featured Will Brown, the lead barber at his shop, Francis the Duke Barber Co. at Philadelphia. As you might expect, Will was quick with a smile and friendly banter for everyone and anyone who walked through the door. My plan was to shoot Will as he worked, of course, I hoped for some glamour, perhaps a troupe manscaped football athletes would come in and get some work done, but in this case he was giving a straight razor shave to a customer. I thoroughly enjoy shooting folks who work with their hands. So much so in fact, that I started a series called “Hand-made” which you can view on my portfolio website: www.benweldonphotography.com that features folks doing exactly that: working with their hands. There is something so simple but inspiring about capturing someone as they masterfully shape, cut, build, or bend with their hands. I love the expressions of calm concentration or casual laughter on Will’s face in these images as he does his thing and I can say after having seen him work, that he does a fantastic job. Francis the Duke is located in the Piazza in Northern Liberties and if you are in need of a shave or a hair cut, definitely stop in and see Will-you won’t be disappointed.
If you or anyone you know would be interested in being incorporated in my hand-made series, please contact me. These images ran in a recent issue of Philadelphia Style Magazine. Enjoy!