David Hellqvist talks to photographer Jonathan Daniel Pryce about his interest in faci
Beards are big on the streets of London today, both literally and figuratively speaking. Men are sporting facial hair, proudly displaying beards or moustaches — or both even — all colours, shapes and forms. Scottish street photographer Jonathan Daniel Pryce picked up on this a while back and decided to do something about it. Between July and October of this year, the photographer went on a search for the ultimate beard, documenting one a day. The result is a book and exhibition featuring everyone, from slick City bankers to Shoreditch fashionistas, with enough stamina to carry on growing facial hair and enough courage to make it count. Ahead of the launch of his St Martins Lane hotel exhibition, we spoke to the Pryce, who earlier this year was crowned ‘Photographer Of the Year’ at the 2012 Scottish Fashion Awards.
David: What constitutes a beard according to you?
Jonathan: That’s an excellent question and I got a lot of feedback from the men I photographed. Some beard purists feel a good length is needed, but there were many who felt that leaving stubble for a few days created a beard. I tried to document all types, so there’s a good mix.
David: What is it with beards that fascinate you?
Jonathan: A beard is the most authentic, masculine accessory available. We’ve entered a period of time when style on all levels is obsessed with heritage, realness and strength. For men, facial hair seems to represent all these things and so they’re cropping up more and more. When shooting street style, I always look for is individuality. That’s something that’s really difficult to pin down, but I feel more than anything you can buy, facial hair shows something about the personality of the person. When photographing fashion over the past five years, I was always aware of facial hair and this is interest has just grown.
David: How did you come up with the idea of a book about them?
Jonathan: I wanted to try something new, specific and personal. I’m best known for my street style photography and wanted to continue in this vein. I’ve been noticing beards so much recently – I lived in Paris last year, a city where nearly everyone has a beard – so moving to London made me hyper aware of facial hair.
David: Do you have one yourself?
Jonathan: One of the other reasons I started the project is because I’ve never been good at growing facial hair but admired other’s. I began living vicariously you may say. The wonderful thing about 100 Beards is the readers really took ownership over the project. My Twitter began going crazy asking me if I had a beard and what the day 100th photo would be. Peer pressure led me to attempt to grow one for a self-portrait on the final day — so now, I can say ‘yes’ to that question.
David: How did you find the bearded men?
Jonathan: The project was quite pure to the ‘street photography’ concept. I did a lot of walking around the city and discovered some great neighbourhoods I would 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.
100 Beards – 100 Days, Front Room at St Martins Lane , 45 St Martin’s Lane WC2N 4HX, until November 5, 2012