– by Francesca Peak –
Jonathan D Pryce is a true beard lover, having spent 100 days photographing majestic beards around London for his tumblr project ‘100 Beards 100 Days’. The project proved so popular – including posts on Mail Online and Huffington Post – that he has continued photographing beards for over a year after the initial 100 days ended. The fashion photographer and social media consultant now runs 100 Days 100 Beards alongside his street style blog Garçon Jon.
Where did the idea for ‘100 Beards 100 Days’ come from?
There were many reasons when I started the blog on July 1st. I won Photographer of the Year at the SFAs (Scottish Fashion Awards) in June 2012 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.
What was the reaction of men you approached to photograph their facial hair?
Men are notoriously difficult to photograph as they are shy or embarrassed. The turning point was usually when I told them the name of the project – ‘100 Beards, 100 Days’ always got a laugh. Also men are really proud of their beards as much grooming and time is needed to get them right. There were many men who said no, but after shooting street style for 5 years, I’d hope to have got the gist down.
Why do you think beards have re-entered the modern culture and soared in popularity?
To be honest I think it’s to do with the recession. In a time of financial difficulty people want an accessory that’s not flashy or expensive. There’s nothing more authentic and genuine that a beard. Also, it hasn’t really been in the mainstream for a good length of time so it was bound to come back.
What was the most unforgettable beard you photographed for the project?
I loved Roy on Day 47. Roy was one of those perfect time & place moments. It was taken in the golden hour as the sun was starting to set & it hit his face perfectly. He’s my oldest beard participant and so represents a generation which has seen the beard come and go many times.
Did you find there was a story behind every beard? What was the most interesting story you were told?
Nearly every man had a story to tell. The general feedback was just about the public’s response to the beard. Nearly all the men had people asking to touch their beard on a daily basis which is interesting. Also they clearly remembered the day they decided to let it grow.
Why do you think there are so many beard clubs and societies across the world?
It’s a very niche thing. Not everyone can grow a beard but it’s something that brings men together – a common denominator. There are also a lot of grooming tips and tricks which are shared amongst communities like this so there must be a need for it.
You also edit a street style blog, Garçon Jon. Would you agree that the beard is an extension of a man’s style and identity as much as the clothes he wears?
Certainly. Perhaps even more so as it isn’t bought. There’s nothing more personal than our hair and that includes facial.
Why did you decide to immortalise these beards in a book? When is the second edition released?
A book seems to be the perfect format for the project. It’s concise and chronological. I think of it as a kind of documentation. The next edition is out next month – the 1st sold out in a matter of weeks which was incredible so this time I’ve doing a pre-order so everyone who wants a copy can get one.
Are there any upcoming exhibitions of images from the blog?
Watch this space!
Quick Fire Five:
Majestic Moustache or Beautiful Beard? beautiful beard
Wet shave or Electric? Electric – more options, although I love a traditional wet.
Goatee or Mutton Chops? Mutton chops
The Gandalf or The Galifianakis? The Gandalf
Beard Art or Free Flowing? Free Flowing
The second edition of ‘100 Beards 100 Days’ is out soon but you can pre-order your copy of this beautiful book now.