Thursday, 1 November 2012

One hundred beards

"I have major beard envy. I can't grow a good beard myself so this project allowed me to live vicariously through others," Jonathan Daniel Pryce explains as his popular blogging project, 100 Beards in 100 Days, is turned in to a hard back book and launched at Front Room, St Martin’s Lane, later today.

If you're unfamiliar with the project, Pryce took up a daily pursuit to capture and document the finest facial fuzz amongst the capital’s male population. Beginning on July 1st and culminating with a snapshot of his own cultivation, the talented photographer shot one hundred beards in one hundred days. From young tattooed hipsters to suited city gents, wonderfully bushy to artfully trimmed, the streets of London are awash with beards and Pryce shot some of the finest specimens. As the body of beards shifts from blog to book, we caught up with Pryce to relive the one hundred days of work...

You've been photographing street style for yourself and a range of fashion clients for about five years now but what was the catalyst for the 100 Beards in 100 Days Project? 
There were many reasons when I started the blog on July 1st. I won Photographer of the Year at the SFAs in June and a lot of my client work had become quite similar so I began thinking of concepts to try something new and personal. I'm best known for my street style photography and wanted to continue in this vein, but develop it further to focus on portraiture. I've been noticing beards so much since moving to London and the trend of beards as an accessory has been rising, so I wanted to document that before it becomes over-saturated. 

With the volume and deadlines involved, how difficult was the process of selection? 
That's a great question. In short, very difficult! With each guy I spend anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes, so I can end up with 40 frames meaning editing is tricky. I spent a lot of time deciding and sometimes called in my friend's creative eyes to get a second opinion. With nearly every subject there was more than one photograph I loved, and that's part of the reason for having the book. I wanted to show the outtakes and also the guys who, for whatever reason, didn't make it onto the blog. 

The project involved you cultivating your own beard, who are you beard icons/inspirations? 
I've got such a wealth of inspiration due to all the guys I photographed. When I decided to grow my own, due to the huge amount of digital peer pressure, I spoke with the team at Pall Mall Barbers who are experts in all things hirsute. We spoke about a few icons and how to shape my beard to suit me once it grew in. I love Nick Wooster's style and his facial hair is always superb. It was such an honour when he blogged about the 100 Beards project. My real envy kicks in when I see models like Patrick Petitjean or Tony Ward - strong growth, thick and full! 

Looking back at this body of beards, do you have any particular favourites? 
I've selected twelve images to be shown at 45 St Martins Lane (open between 1st - 6th of November) which are some of my favourites. I loved Roy as I think the photograph captured the moment perfectly. Also Ricki, Kial and Ali all had very impressive growth. 

Were you surprised by the variety of beard shot? Were there any beards that got away? 
I tried hard to represent many people - this blog wasn't about hipster beards or tradition beards, I wanted it to show the diversity that London has to offer. I did a lot of walking around the city and discovered some great neighbourhoods I'd of never have travelled to otherwise. There were certain areas with higher concentrations of beards - Soho and Shoreditch especially - but I think another subject in the photography is the location, so keeping that diverse was important to me. The project was quite pure to the 'street photography' concept so yes I lost quite a few bearded guys in the London crowds. What will you focus your lens on next? The book promotion is going to take me up until the end of 2012, with launches at Jigsaw Menswear and the new Pall Mall Barbershop. After, I'm working on some exciting projects for the London Collections: Men in January - some film and photography documenting the men behind the industry. Watch this space.

To whet our appetite for the book launch and the exhibition at 45 St Martins Lane, Jonathan Daniel Pryce shares a few of his favourites beards...

Roy, Ricki, Ali and Kial from 100 Beards.


Matthew Spade said...

really looking forward to the book. he says he can't grow a decent beard but his is still better than mine

Duck said...

It's so interesting to see how Jonathan's career has progressed over the past couple of years. Being from Glasgow we naturally know several people in common, such a small town... I also completely forgot he was having his exhibition in SML and bumped into going back to my room last week!

I always seem to bump into him by chance. The first ever time I met him I was in Paris for fashion week, heard a Glaswegian voice in the street and thought "That must be either him or the other half of Les Garcons de Glasgow". Crazy that I couldn't think of any other reason to hear a Scottish voice in Paris but I was right! Ended up going to the Cerruti show together.


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