Note — If you are wondering what the hell this stuff is all about, you can see the entire series of posts here.
This was a fun one, and another shoot where I had a very clear concept in mind before we got together. Of course, that changed a bit as things progressed. And for the better.
My idea was to photograph someone with a substantial beard in the process of shaving it off. Pretty straightforward, right? Ah, but how to make it look interesting–therein lies the challenge.
I instantly thought of my hirsute friend and frequent co-conspirator Ryan Albritton, a local musician and studio owner, among other things. Considering that Ryan’s beard is almost as well known as he is around these parts, it took a little convincing but he eventually acquiesced to my begging. And considering that he is also well known for wearing plaid/flannel shirts, I figured I would capitalize on his lumberjack fashion sense and photograph him shaving with a hatchet.
A few days prior to the shoot however, he mentioned that another bearded friend of ours would be participating as well: Bredon Jones of the band Last To Show First To Go. OK, now things were getting interesting. But I only had the one scenario in mind. How would I shoot both subjects? Luckily, Bredon had that all taken care of.
Since Ryan had the long-haired, flannel man thing going on I was thrilled to see that Bredon arrived equipped with a three piece suit–a perfect foil that gave us the idea to pursue the whole “duality” them you see above. Grunge man shaves with a hatchet while business man shaves with a fancy razor. And oh man, the shaving.
Each subject took turns in my bathroom (we shot this in my basement) shaving exactly half of their beard, while somehow managing not to clog the entire neighborhood’s plumbing with the trimmings. Yeah, it looked pretty ridiculous. Until we got everything under the lights.
I tend to favor dark backgrounds and vivid lighting and this was no exception, as we shot on a roll of black seamless. The main light was an Alien Bees ringflash placed in the center of the frame, above the camera and angled down at them. To provide some accents and play up the duality theme, I placed an Alien Bees B800 with a grid on each side of them, gelling Ryan’s a warm orange to compliment his shirt and Bredon’s a cool blue for the same reason. Once I had the lights dialed in, the photo basically made itself. We played with a few ideas (see below for outtakes) but I ended up using this one because of the facial expressions. Ryan’s subtle grimace is what really sold me on this version.
Other than a little lighting experiment (using the ringflash off-axis) there wasn’t a lot of profound knowledge gained on this shoot. But HOLY CRAPBALLS was it awesome to see Ryan walk into my bathroom a 25-year-old manly man and come back out looking like a 14-year-old boy after shaving the rest of beard off. We all had a hearty laugh at his expense (what are friends for?) and I even made his mom very happy by sending her a photo of her baby boy for Mother’s Day. Until he started growing it back.
I am also very thankful that these two are still my friends. They have every right not to be after putting them through this indignity.