The barbershop has always been a special place.
It’s often the place where a new milestone – Junior got his first haircut today! – is achieved.
It’s a place where men gather to talk business, sports, power equipment. But not women.
I’ve been in a few barbershops in my life, and I have some great barbers.
Paulie George was one of my earliest cutters. He had a shop near the edge of the town I grew up in, not far from the railroad tracks that crossed over into the next. I kinda remember him being rough.
There was another guy who had a small shop in Luzerne, PA. I remember my dad taking me there all the time, in the chill of a fall evening and the humid, warm summer nights. The door would jingle and young me would the smell of the neck powder coming of the barber’s (Tony?) brush and small machine oil used for his clippers. I’d sit and read car magazines. Wish I could go back and take photos of THAT place. Bet it was classic.
In high school, I wore a classic flat-top haircut, and always had to go see Mike a few towns over for that cut. He did it best.
In college, there was Two-Spin Pete. Didn’t charge much, and only spun the chair twice. You got what you got.
I’ve sat in a few other chairs over the year. Lately, though, me and the boys go to Joe’s Barbershop here in Allentown. Joe’s is owned by Hector and Nicole, two business partners that have been working together for a long time.
It’s a nice small-town joint, as are all the little shops here in Allentown. Joe’s sits just off of Main Street, and they just moved into a bigger shop three doors down from their old one.
About two years ago, a rival shop tried to open across the street. They lasted about six months.It was ridiculous to try to challenge Joe’s. Hector, Nicole and the rest of the staff are great. They all get the job done quickly and efficiently. There’s usually a TV on showing music videos, but usually what you hear are the buzz of clippers, the snip of scissors and the vroooom of blow dryers cleaning of necks.
If you clicked the Joe’s link above, you can see they are building a new website. A website needs visuals. So, a few months ago, I pitched Hector an idea: I’d shoot new images for the site in trade for some haircuts for my boys. I showed Joe and Nicole my portfolio and they liked what they saw. We shook hands and had a deal.
A few weeks ago, on a Sunday, I arrived at the shop just after they opened. I wanted to spend a couple of hours there, but stay out of the way, blend into the background. I didn’t want to be in the way of the barbers, and, honestly, I wasn’t sure how the patrons would react. It’s not every day you go to your local ‘shop and some guy is patrolling around with camera.
But it was all cool. While I did shoot some color (3 images, maybe?), I again saw this story unfolding in simple, sharp black & white. Again, like a classic LIFE magazine spread.Entire-to-detail.
Of course, when my boys showed up for their haircuts, I had to include them as well (and didn’t need a release form!)
The shoot went really well. Hector and Nicole like the images, especially the one that opens this post. I still need to go back and do some portraits of the staff, but I think I gave them enough to get started on that website.
Of course, like at any good barbershop, everyone got a lollypop.
(c)Mark Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | 2015