Amazing Hair Photos From a National Beard Brawl
The House of Blues in New Orleans became the House of Beards recently when it hosted the 2013 National Beard and Moustache Championships. Photographer Greg Anderson was there to document some of the most audacious facial fabrications descending on Nawallins to compete.
Having just learned about the 2012 championships the day after it rolled through Las Vegas, where Anderson lives, he was determined catch it the next time around. With an interest in producing technically pristine photos, he wanted to see these magnificent specimens portrayed in the right light.
I think I took this as an opportunity to put my spin on it and show what I could do with the photography says Anderson.
These aren't your average crumb catchers, with elaborate designs that extend from whiskers to wardrobe to persona. Is your beard a full Geribaldi or a partial Musketeer? Is your mustache Imperial or Hungarian? In the case of full beards, a U.S.-dominated category on the international stage, extra points are given for density, shape and color in addition to the standard appraisal of overall length. The 17 categories of facial hair are held to rules that govern parameters like length, shape, use of styling aids, coloring, fullness and whether the beard is connected to the mustache.
Many contestants stay in touch as friends outside of the contest, with the annual competition serving as a sort of a main event. Sponsorship from a beer distributor also helped keep spirits loose and easy at this years event, but people were still there to win all to compete in the facial hair-arena, you have to be fully committed. Anderson, normally clean-shaven, decided he would stick to taking pictures and left the scruff to the professionals.
I thought about growing a mustache or some sort of beard, but I didn't want to be seen as pandering, he says.
Shooting these portraits wasn't all fun and games, Anderson took around 2,500 shots over the course of two days, lugging some of his own equipment and renting others, bringing an assistant along to help. Using a medium-format camera that takes extra time to focus, he shot by hand without the help of a tripod throughout sessions that lasted over six hours. Convincing the contestants to pose for the series, however, was not so tough.
Growing a beard in general is an attention-grabber, you set up the lights and they show up,says Anderson.
A calendar and book of photos are in the works, and Anderson has been named the official photographer of the 2014 world series being held in Portland, Oregon. It'll be the third ever world championship held in the States, with this year's being held in Germany, a dominant nation in the world of bearding. Anderson plans on producing a coffee table book of that competition. While this series remains a personal project for him, he says it has opened the door to a new community of great people. Anyone interested in being part the bearding community and getting into this photo series should start preparing now, though this is a competition that's on the grow.