INTRODUCING 'BARBERSHOPS OF AMERICA' - A PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY BY ROB HAMMER
Allow us to introduce you to a new associate and friend of Uppercut Deluxe - Rob Hammer. Name sound familiar? Perhaps you've admired Rob's beautifully curated 'Barbershops of America' coffee table book? It was our first introduction to Rob's masterful work with a camera. Rob spent the better part of three years road tripping (flew to AK+HI) to all 50 states in search of old barber shops that represented their place in the United States and the history of barber shops as we know it today. During that time he traveled over 50,000 miles and visited roughly 750 barbershops. Only about 75 of the best made it into the book.
UPPERCUT DELUXE X BARBERSHOPS OF AMERICA
In the age of social media and self promotion, it can be easy to lose sight of the true identity of barbering. A timeless trade that combines creativity and customer service into a true art form. Rob's imagery captures the essence of the craft in its purest form. The stories, the people and the shops immortalized on the high quality stock pages of this book, represent a generation of barbers from simpler times unaffected by social media, barbering battles or industry profiles. Just real people earning a living through their chosen craft. In our opinion it serves as a timely reminder of what the industry is all about. We've teamed up with Rob to produce a four part mini series highlighting a just a few of these particular stories. We hope you enjoy them us much as we do.
BARBERSHOPS OF AMERICA - PART 1 TONY'S BARBERSHOP
The average house price in Greenwich, Connecticut is $1.3 million. “Normal” people don’t live there. They can’t afford to live there. Greenwich has a standard of living rivaled by only a few other places in the country. If you look really hard though, you can find a place that brings everyone back to baseline. That place is Tony’s Barbershop. A humble place on the corner of a small street outside of town. Blink and you’ll miss it. At Tony’s it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you make. Tony is the boss. He’s been cutting in his shop for longer than most of you have been alive. And that’s obvious the second you walk in. The shop is more than just a place where Tony earns a living. It’s not just a job, it’s a second home and a way of life. In fact, you could probably argue that he’s spent more time at the shop than he has at home.
The only thing that’s changed at Tony’s since he opened some 50+ years ago is the price of a haircut. Almost everything on the outside and the inside walls are virtually the same. The times have changed, but Tony hasn’t. You know where you are in the world because of the Yankee newspaper clippings on the wall. Otherwise you’d think you were walking around in a time capsule. What he has in there can’t be bought or faked in a new shop today. No way. He’s the real deal.
Tony is quiet but inviting. Just his smile and bald head make you instantly trust him. He’s a frail guy who walks a bit hunched over, but still navigates his shop with zero effort. Could probably do it with his eyes closed. He’s in the back when a customer walks into an otherwise empty shop. Tony’s face lights up because he instantly recognizes that person as his friend and long-time customer, who walks right to the chair and sits down.
Tony doesn’t have to ask what he wants, because he already knows. He just goes to work, and they talk together seamlessly like two guys who have known each other forever. As frail as Tony seems, once his hands bring the shears up, they are rock steady. Tony is a barber. Once the haircut is over, they talk a little more and both mention that they’ll see each other next month. No specifics. Just a fact. No need for an appointment or a phone call. Tony knows he’ll be back, and looks forward to it.
Just as the door shuts, Tony sits without looking on the arm of his chair and stairs quietly out the window. A classic scene. I walk up to him with my camera. He’s not impressed by my presence, but also not afraid to look at the lens. Those frames are some of my favorite of the project. Candid and real. After I put the camera away, I ask him “How many heads of hair do you figure you’ve cut in your day?” He keeps looking out the window for a couple seconds, then responds, “ Oh, well, I’d be afraid to say”.