If your beard is too out of control, or the hairs on the back of your neck are too long, a visit to the barber will fix you right up. Chances are you’ll also paticipate in or listen to stimulating conversations about current events. Rob Hammer, author of Barbershops of America, began his three-year personal project documenting barbershops across the country in 2011. “When I was younger, they seemed like such cool places. Almost like a clubhouse for men, where nothing was off limits. You could act like a man without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings. A place where you can drink a beer, lay down a bet, and read a Playboy, in peace.”
Hammer’s self-published book includes hundreds of images from barbershops in every state. Hammer tried funding the project through Kickstarter but that was “a total failure,” he says. “I let my excitement for the project get the best of me.” Hammer decided to fund it himself with money he made on commercial shoots, though none of the shops were photographed while on assignment. “They were all done [during] a series of cross country road trips. That was the best part of the whole thing.”
Barbershops of America was released earlier this fall. Because “getting a good deal was a total pain-in-the-ass,” Hammer worked with Edition One to self-publish the 1,000 copies of the book. Tom Visocchi, an art director at a magazine in Denver Hammer had worked with in the past, designed the book. Viscocchi “was the first one to ever hire me. [He] said ‘I only called you back because you were so annoying.’ I became a regular contributor for that magazine, and we have been friends ever since.”
Hammer admits editing ton of images he shot over three years was a challenge. “This whole aspect was very time consuming but also exciting. It definitely took away from my commercial shooting, but you can’t trade one for the other. The day I got my first hard copy made it all worthwhile.”
The 120-page hardcover book, Barbershops of America, is available through a the website Hammer set up for the project.