Aidan Tobias

Medium Format
My idea came to me from an image from one of my favourite photographers. I had the idea of producing a studio shoot documenting a group of Men with outrageous beards. My idea first started as a simply studio shoot with a simple lighting setup and one or two men. It soon developed into a portrait shoot with about 9 different men and a unique low key lighting setup after some advice from my Lecturer. I was able to track down strangers from all over that had unique and different facial hair.
The idea was to shoot all of the men on medium format 125 Ilford black and white film. I wanted to highlight each individuals beard as a core identity. I was hoping to do a study of all of the men involved and later shoot another series where they were clean shaven. However for this assignment the main idea was to have a series of bearded me. The main aim I wanted to express was a visually pleasing shoot that expressed the details of the men’s face and the ruggedness of the facial hair. I tried to make all of the male models as comfortable as possible before shooting them I took them into the studio where all the lights where set up and tried to make them as relaxed as possible. I shot them all on digital first so they could get use to the lights going off and how things would run then moved onto The Mamiya RB67. I took 2-3 images of each person one with was a serious look on their face almost as relaxed as possible but not smiling. The other was a shot where they had their hand under their chin and where playing with their beards. This was almost like the pose of “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin .
As a man we all can remember going through puberty and how we started to grow facial hair and started to shave for the first time. It’s a rite of passage in some cultures and there are some religions where men never shave and let their hair facial hair grow out. I find it interesting how many men after leaving school find the need to grow their facial hair out. It’s a right that was prohibited all through their school years and now that they are finally free from any governing system they have the freedom to do so. It’s a very personal statement to make and is expressed on a daily bases by interacting with others. Beards are unique to each individual and can completely change the look of an individual.
All in all I had a lot of fun doing this assignment and it was a huge learning curve for me to use Medium format for the first time. I have a new found love for Medium format film and can’t wait to use it again in the future.