PEOPLE (5) – MY HAIRDRESSER

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MY HAIRDRESSER

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Those who know me are amused to hear that I have a hairdresser – for those who don’t know me, this is because my head of hair exited stage left many, many years ago.  However I do (more or less) regularly take what little hair I have left for cutting by John, who has been my barber for years.  He has been in the business of cutting hair for many decades and now works only with appointments – no passing trade.  He has a very large number of regular and very satisfied customers.

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 One

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 In May 2008,  John was soon to vacate the shop that he’d worked in for many years, to move his business to other premises nearby.  Realising that the shop that he was soon to leave must hold many memories for him, I asked whether I might photograph him at work there, and he readily agreed.  So, being not at all used to this kind of photography, I turned up at his shop on 24 May 2008, to see what sort of job I could make of this assignement.

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 Two 

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I used a Nikon F6, mostly with a 24mm-85mm Nikkor.  Some of the shots were taken with the aid of a tripod but, because I wanted to catch him in action cutting hair, many of the photos used a Nikon SB-800 Speedlight flash, with a diffuser attached.  The films were a 36 of Fuji Neopan 1600  rated at 1600 ISO (a wonderful film – but I have a horrible feeling that its now been discontinued) and four 36s of Ilford HP5 rated at 400 ISO. 

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Three

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Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro helped manipulate the scanned images – I wouldn’t be without this software when working with monochrome.  The shots with smiling and laughing customers were chosen deliberately: having your hair cut here guarantees good and frequently humorous conversation!  Numbers one, three, four and seven have had a very light blue selenium tint added to them.  Numbers two and five have no tint. 

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 Four

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Number six is my favourite shot.  It has had stronger manipulation, and I think a light sepia tint.  It is my favourite because of its tight cropping, the axis between the subjects’ heads which just about divides the photo in half – bottom left to top right; and then its tinted and rather retro appearance, and also because the head of the richly grinning customer stands out well against a mainly black backdrop. 

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  Five

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As I said, the business runs by appointment only – number two shows John making an appointment in the diary.  Number three shows that crucial moment for all hairdressers –  when the customer is shown the result of the cut in a mirror.  As an unposed portrait, I like number four too.  Numbers three and five show the shop: something to stimulate memories in years to come. 

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Six

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And number seven (the only posed picture here) shows that, unlike The Wages Of Sin, The Wages Of Barbering are not to be sneezed at!

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 Seven

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