Sydney Mclaughlin

One major focus I’ve had over the past year+ has been to only collaborate with commercial clients that I have a real connection with. Whether that be because they make a product I use or their product/beliefs/brand are directly related to my own lifestyle. I personally think this is the way to have successful collaborations. If you’re not interested and you’re just there for the money, then it shows in the final images, and leads to sour relationships with the clients. Recently I was lucky to collaborate with New Balance on 3 different shoots in LA and Cleveland. I’m a late comer to the New Balance scene, only purchasing my first pair of their sneakers about 5 years ago. Ever since then though, I tell everybody that they are “a gift to your feet”. I’m lucky to do a good amount of traveling, and that travel always involves a LOT of walking. Usually 9-12 miles a day for a week or two straight. It’s fun and really the only way to truly explore/photograph whatever place you’re in. After my first trip in a pair of NB’s, I was totally hooked. They always left my feet feeling great at the end of the day, no matter how much we walked. On top of having a great product, I also like their style of branding, photography, and the athletes they choose to associate with. So it was an honor to collaborate with New Balance on these recent shoots. They were some solid days where the athletes, client, agency, and production company were all great to work with. Everybody had a lot of fun and we all came away with solid content. Win Win for everybody. Looking forward to more of this.

If you haven’t seen the video The Rec League put together, check it out below. Awesome stuff. You can also check out more work from them HERE.

Click here for more of my athlete imagery.


Here are a couple images from the day that I like. Not sure if these are even the shots used for the campaign, but I like them.


Vinny's Barbershop - Los Angeles

People were always saying “Oh, you haven’t been to Vinny’s in Los Angeles? You have to go check out Vinny’s”. Heard that constantly, and after reaching out a couple times with no response, I remember thinking “they must just be a bunch of LA assholes”. Thankfully, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Like most barbers, the crew is a solid bunch of guys that like to have fun and probably don’t pay much attention to random emails from unknown photographers. Omar Romero is the owner, who not only put together an extremely slick shop, but also might be the owner of the best head of hair you’ll see on a human being. Seriously. As you’ll see from the exterior shot, it’s a very unique place. It occupies the bottom floor of a building in what I can only assume used to be two different apartments. What I love the most is that they kept the entrance the same, in that there are different doors for each side of the shop. Omar and all his guys are also one of the only crews around that dress from head to toe in uniforms. How’s that for carrying on tradition?

Follow Omar on Instagram @omarthebarber and the shop @vinnys_barbershop

Click here to check out “Barbershops of America”

Click here to read the last Q&A from The Proper Barbershop.

“….we should all be grateful for people walking in to our shops. They don’t owe us crap….

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1) Where are you from and what did you do prior to becoming a barber?

I’m originally from Ensenada Baja California but I grew up in South San Diego, CA.

Before becoming a barber I had varies odd jobs. Bus boy, server, did landscaping and worked almost every summer with my dad. He’s a retired Truck driver.

2) How did you get into barbering?

it all started with watching Cry-Baby and I love Lucy... I know it sound cliché but it’s true. I’d also watch early Elvis with his amazing hair! I loved hair instantly. I was 8 when I started to appreciate good hair in cinema and magazines. When I got to middle school i always wanted a proper haircut but to my surprise it was almost non existent. It would frustrate me and made me start researching more about the whole barbering world. I soon realized that it wasn’t just about a haircut. More of a tradition that I grew to obsess over! I would instantly be defensive when I’d set foot in a barber shop, always knowing that I would be disappointed. I realized that people who were barbers at that point (mid 90s) were just doing it for a quick buck. As soon as I realized that, I started manifesting this idea of a shop with charm of yesteryear but efficiency of modern times.

At 16 1/2 I met my mentor, Mr. Ralph Upshaw and his son Rick Upshaw. They opened their doors to me and and they got me on the right path. It was far for me so I decided to stay in San Diego and finish my hours at Associated Barber College.

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3) What was your experience at Sweeney Todd's like?

It was a very important experience!

Without going there I wouldn’t have learned the importance of structure. I have always been a stickler about a clean shop. Even if the shop was owned by people whom didn’t care much about keeping tidy.

Todd Lahman showed me that taking pride in being a barber was something special. That IT IS a real job and it must be treated as such.

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4) What did you take away from Sween's that is in place at Vinny's?

Again, structure and consistency

5) The building that Vinny's occupies is quite unique for a barbershop. Do you know the history of it? Why did you choose that building?

All I know is that it was built in 1917 and it’s been many different store fronts.

I chose that building, honestly for convenience. I used to live down the street because it was so cheap in that neighborhood (at the time).

I saw it up for rent for over a year and I needed to do something quick. After I left Sweeneys I had a “speak easy” barber shop behind Golden Saddle Cyclery in Silverlake. They shared a space in the back with our local comic book store “Secret Headquarters”. My friends David Pifer and David Ritchie (owners of SHQ) gave me a spot there and I rented for 1 year. I had to make my business legit...

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6) There are a lot of solid shops in LA. How was it opening your shop in Silverlake?

It was fine. There are a lot of shops in LA and I knew that going in, but I didn’t let that hold me back. I decided to put my head down and just plow forward. I figured if we give the public genuine/ sincere service that we won’t have to worry about competition. There is so many people that need cuts! I won’t allow myself to have hang ups like every shop owner I had ever worked with.

2 of my guys just opened up a shop each about 2 miles away from Vinny’s. Beautiful shops, and I couldn’t be prouder or happier. Víctor Bañuelos opened Elysian Barber Shop (@elysianbarbershop) and Arya Abarghoei opened Victory Barber Co. (@victory_barber_company)

7) What do you get into outside of the shop?

I love cycling, making music, camping and Bodyboarding

Tell me more about the music

I started music right before I decided to stick to barbering. I thought it would be a good fit.I figured I could cut hair anywhere I traveled to.I’ve been part of a independent label for almost 20 years now. ‘WILD Records’ (@wildrecords). I record most of the acts on it and I also currently perform with my band Omar & The Stringpoppers.


8) Biggest lesson you've learned as a barber turned shop owner?

Grown men are very fragile..... (customers) hahaha.

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Expand on that

if a person shows up late to their appointment and we have to skip their turn, they get bent out of shape and take it personal, not realizing that the next person after them is probably on a lunch break or a tight schedule.

Or if you “squeeze” them in they take it as a personal attack and throw in your face that they pay or tip well.

To me it’s not about the tip or the money (don’t get me wrong, I NEED money), but it’s about running a well oiled machine. Respecting every customer that helps feed my children.

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9) There are 10(?) chairs at Vinny's. What is the key to managing all those barbers?

I think the key is to listen to the people renting out the chairs. If they have input, hear them out. A lot of times they have better ideas than I do.

Respect their stations, lockers, knick knacks etc...

Also, the biggest one- lead by example!!!! I can’t stress that enough.

I hate shop owners that want to be the “Boss”

Be a leader. Roll your sleeves up and get things done.

At the end of the day, when the barbers start leaving the nest, you’ll be left without your “minions” to do your “dirty work”.

Get in a good habit to show your crew that we all have to have each other’s backs and that we all have the same greater good goal...

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10) Vinny's is one of the only shops I see where the barbers are wearing uniform tops, bottoms, and shoes. Can you talk about your decision do that and why you run your shop the way you do?

Reason for uniforms is because I feel that if you put on the uniform it makes you feel professional, clean and well put together. I felt like it is important that when patrons walk through our doors they see our staff and recognize that we in fact work here and are ready to serve you.I used to cut hair in regular clothes and always felt like I was rushing through haircuts or wasn’t fully invested in the days work. As if I was just in for a few and then had to rush out.

Besides- walking around with other people’s hair all day long is just not for me. Haha.

Once you throw the uniform on it feels like you’re the one in charge of your station and service.

11) Random thoughts on what you do.....

Yeah, we should all be grateful for people walking in to our shops. They don’t owe us crap! In fact without them we won’t eat. So stay grounded! Respect everyone and the rest will fall in place.

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Museum of Photographic Arts - San Diego

People might get sick of hearing me say this but it doesn’t matter - I’m a huge advocate for photographers personal projects. And in my opinion, if you’re not working on at least one then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Barbershops of America is one of my longest running personal projects. Since starting it almost 8 years ago it has sort of taken on a life of its own. Leading to many friendships and commercial work with a lot of like minded people/companies. I really love this project and have no plan on stopping, so being asked to talk at MOPA earlier this month was a huge honor. Really enjoyed presenting and was great to see people who have never heard about the project having a genuine interest in the images/story/book. Hope to do something like this again soon.

Click here to check out the book.

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America

Suppose the only way to describe this set of images is quirky? If you come up with something better, let me know. They were all made on a recent road trip from San Diego to Colorado and back. This kind of shooting wasn’t the main focus, but it is always a focus while on the road. Did a lot of with the 50mm, which has been sitting on a shelf for the better part of 5+ years. Odd how you fall in and out of love with different lenses. Could have cared less about it for these last 5+ years, now I can’t get enough of it.

Click here to check out more from my America series.

Click her to buy prints from my America series.

Source: www.robhammerphotography.com/blog/america719

Kings Club Barbershop

It’s been so long since I sat down with the guys at Kings Club to record this thing that I don’t really remember much of what we talked about. I do recall that it was a great time, but it was also completely unfiltered, so you might wanna skip it if you’re offended easily. Either way, they are a great group of guys (and barbers) that you should hit up if you’re in the Dana Point area and need a cut. Beautiful shop too. I’ve known them since way back when I first started shooting for this project in 2012-ish and they’ve been in both books. The shop has been through a lot since then, including a fire that completely destroyed the place, so it was cool to catch up with them to talk about everything that has happened since we first met.

Click here to check out “Barbershops of America”

Click here to check out PRINTS from the book.

ROAD TRIP

Just wrapped up another road trip, and like every one before, it was amazing for many different reasons. For me as a person and a photographer, there is nothing better than being out by myself on the road. The freedom and lack of influence by other people is the best. This one was a bit shorter than my usual coast to coast trip done this time of year. I drove out to Colorado and did quite a bit of shooting for various projects/reasons, as well as visiting friends to do some camping, mountain biking, and white water rafting. More from all of this soon.

Click here to see prints from my “America” series.

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Street Photography - Southern California

More of my random wanderings around southern California neighborhoods. I leave the house with zero expectations or idea of what I’m looking for and this is what comes of it. A fun and relaxing way of learning more about the place I live.

Click here to see more from this series.

Click here to buy a print from this series.

Commercial Fishing - San Diego

Posted a similar batch of images from this series a few month back, maybe even half a year ago. In that post I talked about the need to live with images for while before you realize what you had seen during the shoot, what’s good, and what’s shit. Went back a week ago and looked at that gallery of images and decided I did not like them at all, and one of the reasons is because they were all black and white. After seeing one of the images by chance in color, it occurred to me that the subtle colors of the locations that translate in the images are very effective. They are real and tell a good story. My appreciation for more subtle colors is growing quite a bit. Especially after spending time on Instagram and seeing how people feel the need to have everything perfect. Perfect isn’t real.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL GALLERY OF IMAGES.

Dead of Night Distillery

It seems that most people think of gin as that nasty pine needle tasting liquor that your grandfather had at his house. And I used to think the same thing. 6 months ago if you offered me a gin drink, I would have ignorantly turned it down thinking that all gin just tastes like floor cleaner. Dead of Night Distillery has completely changed my mind though. I’ve always been a beer guy, never much for liquor, but tasting this gin and the cocktails made with it, has me singing a different tune. Really great stuff and i’m excited to see where this recently opened distillery goes.

Follow them on Instagram @dead_of_night_distilery or go tot their WEBSITE.

Fly Fishing - Eastern Sierra

Fly fishing is relaxing. That’s obvious. Everyone knows this. It’s also extremely difficult. Both of these facts are the reason why I love shooting it, because the relaxation and difficulty also apply to the photography. And it gives you a great excuse to hang out in some of the most beautiful locations. Seriously though, it’s hard. There are so many factors that go into finding the right place to shoot from in relation to the fisherman, which is constantly changing. Every time the fisherman moves, you have to move in order to get him into a place that will read in the frame. You can’t stop the flow of water, depth of the river, the light, weather, or if the fish are going to bite. There is that old saying that people jump at the chance to use about weather in the mountains that “if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes”. It’s true though. The weather and light are constantly changing, which means that the position you worked so hard to get into for a shot is good one minute and gone the next. You’re constantly having to reposition. I’m not complaining. More just thinking out loud about all the reasons why I love it. All of the variables are enticing and make it that much better when you get a shot that you’re really happy with. Screw sitting in a studio.

On another note, I’m really starting to loves the Eastern Sierra. So much of my time is spent in the mountains of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. And I consider them top notch, but the more time I spend in the Sierra, it becomes obvious how much they have to offer year round. I’ve been there quite a few times in the past month and am already itching to go back.

Click here to see more of my adventure photography.

Street Photography - Cleveland

If we’re being honest, I’ve lived my whole life under the assumption that Cleveland is a complete shithole. Have probably passed it on the road 20 times for that very reason. Was out there a few weeks ago for a commercial shoot and was not only pleasantly surprised, but felt like an idiot for those assumptions. It might be one of the cleanest “cities” in America. It’s hardly big enough to classify as a city like New York or Chicago, but damn it is clean. Shockingly so. Any time I’m in a place for a commercial shoot I make it a point to get out and do some shooting for myself as well. It’s a great way to relax and learn more about the place you’re in. After a couple hours of walking around, my opinion was completely changed. Also noticed immediately that the people there are incredibly nice. Like, go out their way for you nice. It just felt like a very hospitable place. Cheers to you, Cleveland.

Click here to see more of my STREET PHOTOGRAPHY.

PRINTS AVAILABLE

In the past selling prints hasn’t been a huge part of my business, but the requests have certainly started to grow. Unfortunately, I’ve never had a feature on my website in place that allows people to just hop on and order whatever image/size/medium they please, which really hindered the process. So I’m very happy to announce that this feature is now available. Just go to the link below and you can choose from any image listed and order just about any size print, canvas, metal, or wood print that you’d like. And if there is a specific image you’d like that isn’t listed, just reach out to me directly and I’ll get it up there for you.

PRINTS.ROBHAMMERPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

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Project Backboard

Been saying this for a while now, but personal projects are the best, especially when they connect you with other like minded people. Which is certainly the case with Dan Peterson of Project Backboard. He’s been doing amazing things with outdoor basketball courts all over the country. Taking broken down courts and turning them into beautiful works of art that locals are excited to play on. Recently we visited a few of his courts in Los Angeles together, and I was able to talk with him first hand about the process and how things have developed over the years. I really applaud this project and hope that it continues to grow. If you want to check out more of what PB has done, go to their WEBSITE or follow along on their INSTAGRAM PAGE.

If you recognize the bridge in the Watts Oasis images, that’s because it is the very bridge from those famous scenes in White Men Can’t Jump. I personally love that movie and was ecstatic when Dan told me what it was.

Click here to check out some prints from my Hoops Project.

1) Where are you from and what place has basketball taken in your life (prior to Project Backboard) ?

I grew up in suburban NY during the heyday of the great 1990s Knicks teams and ultimately played a year of basketball at Iona College before leaving my official playing days behind.

2) When did you come up with the idea for Project Backboard(PB)? 

Project Backboard wasn't really my idea! I started the work just by painting lines on public courts in Memphis that did not have any just because I loved outdoor basketball.

3) How long/what did it take to get things going for PB? 

I got my first large grant about a year after starting Project Backboard but it was another year before I did the court with William LaChance in St. Louis that really got a lot of attention and opened the door for Project Backboard to become what it is today. 

4) What was the initial reaction? How have reactions changed since you started? 

The initial reaction was overwhelmingly positive and that is the reaction I have continued to get. That said, this style of court has become surprisingly common over the past 12-18 months that the reaction now may be a bit more restrained than the early courts. No one had ever seen anything like the William LaChance court when we first painted it.

5) How have you gone about getting funding for these projects? 

A lot of the courts are funded either by community or corporate foundations.

6) What is the process like from the original idea for a court to the final execution? 

The painting process is different for each court depending on what the artist has in mind for the court artwork. Sometimes its a lot of measuring and straight lines or curves and other times we create a grid across the entire surface of the court and drawing the artwork box by box. 

7) PB has teamed up with some big name companies. How have those relationships come about? 

People reach out and I respond! I am always open to collaborating but the successful projects have been ones were the brands are able to be a little less “corporate” in their approach and allow the artist the freedom to create and lead the project vision. 

8) What is the overall goal for PB?

For every community to have a safe and inviting basketball court. I love outdoor basketball and want to share that with others but, from my perspective, the way that will happen is when individual community members step up to help care for public spaces and hold those charged with maintaining those spaces accountable.

9) Any big projects in the works that you want to share? 

Yes! Looking forward to a few courts in the Bay Area and a court in Puerto Rico along with a handful of others.

10) Random thoughts on PB......

I appreciate all the support and, as I said, always open to collaborating and helping others follow my example so don't hesitate to reach out!

Street Photography

A new selection of images from the local streets of San Diego. You might wonder why I post these, as they have nothing to do with my “business” or commercial work, but I’d have to disagree with you. While the subject of the imagery is completely unrelated, the creation of them is very informative of the commercial work. Learning to see different lines and compositions will be directly reflected in my other work, so you can sort of consider this an exercise. And quite a relaxing one at that.

To see more of my street photography click here.


Smitty's BBQ

I love BBQ. Everything about it. The smell. The taste. The smoke. The buildings. The pits. The process. Even the meat sweats. There really isn’t anything about BBQ I don’t like. Even take a lot of enjoyment out of the different sides that each place serves. Since I started road tripping X amount of years ago, there really hasn’t been a single one that didn’t involve BBQ in some way. That usually means eating it, but I’ve also began documenting it whenever possible, which obviously leads to eating afterward. Win win. Smitty’s down in Texas is as beautiful a BBQ joint as you’ll find anywhere. When you work up a mental picture of old school Texas BBQ in your head, Smitty’s is probably it, or damn close. Their pit room is the kind of thing I see in my dreams. Mouth watering smells, heavy smoke, and dark bricks that have been crusted over from cooking with fire for years and years. Smitty’s is the real deal. Love how the chopping block which was once a flat top is now worn in from endless hours of cutting and serving meats. I could hang out here forever……if there weren’t so many other good BBQ joints to explore.

FYI: If you visit Smitty’s get the sausage.

The Proper Barbershop

The Proper Barbershop is a special place that is right at home in Hollywood. If you want a show as well as a great cut, then The Proper is the place for you. The first time I visited was back in 2013-ish and there was someone sleeping one off in the backroom. From the time I stepped foot inside, the show was just naturally going on. The guys in there know how to have a good time all while getting shit done. The owner Vinnie is a good dude and a classic case of someone you shouldn’t judge just based on his appearance. Being the owner of The Proper and knowing it’s reputation, it would be easy to think that he’s just another Southern California bro with face tattoos. He’s the exact opposite of that though. And one thing I’ve been saying for years now, is that they are just tattoos, a vehicle for creativity and self expression. Vinnie is a really solid guy who spreads a lot of positivity and has a lot of support for his fellow barbers all across the industry.

Follow the shop on IG @theproperbarbershop and Vinnie @theedgebarber

Click here to read the last Q&A with Pig Barber.

Click here to check out Barbershops of America.

Click here to check out my barbershop prints.

“I think the industry has lost sight that we all cut hair and we all should support each other as it costs us nothing to support one another!”

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1) Where are you from and what did you do before barbering? 

I am from Los Angeles, CA and before barbering I was in high school and I actually was kickboxing and teaching kickboxing! But I had a friend who knew during high school that he wanted to do hair so when I realized that I was never going to have a life fighting I tried my hand at hair and absolutely fell in love with it!

2) Talk about owning a shop in Hollywood from a barber's perspective as well as an owner's perspective. 

Well owning a shop in Hollywood is more than what I originally set out for, my hope for the shop was to be a cool little neighborhood spot and this shop grew a bit of a kind of its own, not to say that is a bad thing at all but this shop became more of its own personality, the antics the environment and the bullshit garnered it quite the reputation! From the barbers perspective this shop is so rad, always busy in a transient town with constant walk-ins and never ending material for discussion, it is a dream. From the owners perspective I would echo a ton of that but the real difference is learning how to keep this place relevant while remaining true to the roots of The Proper and that has been the real challenge! 

Do you find that people come in expecting a show or a certain environment? If so, how do you deal with that?

  Over the years I have learned so so much and one thing I have learned is that the environment is just as important as the haircut itself! So yes, at this point in the shops life I do feel that people have come to expect the show that is The Proper Barbershop, and we happily oblige that expectation! Don’t get me wrong we love to sling our brand of BS and entertain but we also make sure we give a quality service!

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3) You also own a shop in Orange County. What lead you to open another shop there and what have you done to grow the business? 

My Orange County shop came out of the need for myself to not drive to and from Hollywood every day from the OC as that is where my family and I live, so in order to preserve some tiny bit of sanity I had to open a shop less than 60 miles away from me! To grow the Orange County shop it required having to penetrate the residential neighborhoods surrounding the center that my shop is located. We drove around with home printed fliers and stuffed mail boxes and most recently have run an add in the money mailer at the recommendation of my brother Cory Danger of the locally famous Golden Crown Barbershop! So that has been fantastic for the shop as well! I have found more of the rad local feeling I wanted in the OC shop as opposed to the larger than life persona of the Hollywood shop!

4) Who/what in the barber industry is inspiring to you? Who/what outside of the industry gives you inspiration? 

Inside the barber industry I draw a ton of inspiration from the team I am on over at Babyliss. I am surrounded by so many really talented barbers that all do something so different from my traditional style of cutting so right now it is learning to meld the new urban style I am learning with my tried and trusted traditional skill set and that has been such a breath of fresh air for me and my career! Outside of the industry I am inspired by culture, tattoos, art, design, currently I am super passionate about graffiti again and that is so cool to try to use some linear intersecting lines and bring that to my creative side of hair! 

Are you saying that you look at graffiti and try to use those designs in haircuts? How has that progressed for you? Do customers come to you for that type of thing now?  

I do draw some liniar inspiration from the cut lines in graffiti as well as all types of art. I try to evolve my style as a barber and as a haircutter every day. I never want to become complacent in this craft. As far as customers coming to me for designs I do have a pocket of those customers who allow me to express my artistic roots and freedom!

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5) Each time I've been in your shop, there is an exceptional level of comedy going on. Talk about that. 

Well the Hollywood shop as mentioned has become a place not just to get a haircut but now to watch and participate in the show! Clients are a part of our jokes and take things from inside the shop weather it be jokes or stories or jargon and apply them to their lives outside the shop and bring us some really epic stories that lead to some incredible real world comedy! Most recently we have a doctor who is a shop regular and his last visit he helped us diagnose that one of our barbers may have contracted an STI and once we realized what it was we just laughed it off and said “oh rad so it’s basically the common cold for the penis!” Well our client found this to be so rad that he vowed he would break the news to someone in the same fashion and this haircut. He came back and told us the story of the frat kid who came to him for the same STI and how our client was so pumped to let this kid know “don’t stress man it is just the common cold for the penis” and he had our whole shop rolling with laughter!

6) You are straight edge. What led to that decision/lifestyle? 

Ehhh that’s a whole ridiculous story but let’s just say that given my family history I knew if I ever started drinking I would be really good at it so I have always been way to scared to even try it! But being straight edge works for me so I intend to stay this way!

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7) What do you think about where barbering is today? 

Loaded question, I think barbering is in an interesting transition where it is less about the work you do and more about the way you look and how you present yourself while not working as if that translates to how good you cut hair? I think the industry has lost sight that we all cut hair and we all should support each other as it costs us nothing to support one another! If we all could band together in positivity we could then and only then start to effect real change! So I hope we can make that the new future together!

8) What do you do outside of the shop? 

Well I play ice hockey as well as have season tickets to the Anaheim Ducks and I raise my beautiful baby girl! I also love to ride my motorcycle. And may or may not be a part time plus sized model... no big deal!

I'm sorry, did you say that you're a plus size model? 

 I am trying out this new thing called..... sarcasm. I am not to sure about it but it sure is fun!

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9) Can you describe the psychology of running and keeping a barbershop moving from day to day. In other words, what is that thing that's happening when you notice everything is just clicking? 

I am not to sure how to answer this one because it changes from day to day. I just try to keep my shops busy because if we are all making money it tends to lead to good moods and a better working environment! 

10) Random thoughts/ramblings/advice on what you do....

I love this industry. It is all I have ever known. I have never had a real job so to see what we are now and how the internet has had such a profound effect on us all I can only hope that we can soon come together and determine a nation wide rate of service. If we all choose, we can force each other to better ourselves by holding ourselves to higher standards we can drop the hate and just be in this together! I love to support barbering. I wear only shop shirts and never my own! I take pride in putting on a pin of a barber or a hat or shirt as I am proud of my industry. It doesn’t hurt us or devalue ourselves to say that someone else is an amazing barber! It just boosts that we are all in this together. I want to do nothing but cut with my friends and constantly put out the best work of my life every day! Through positivity and friendship we can all push ourselves and each other to be the best and it doesn’t cost us anything to support one another! 

Anything else you want to get off your chest? 

Nope!

America

Working on something new for the Hoops Project which has caused me to go back through old hard drives. That in turn always leads to looking at old images in a new way, usually uncovering things that I didn’t notice the first 10 times around. Sitting in front of a computer is not my idea of a good time, but it is fun finding images that turn me on. Below are a few I made from 2013-2018 that stood out at least a little.

Click here to see my full AMERICA gallery.

Eagle & Pig Barbershop

Eagle&Pig Barbershop is a gem of gems. Have loved this place since the first day I walked in. And like most shops worth their weight, Pig is the organic creation of it’s owner Dane Hesse. Spend 30 seconds here and you’ll realize there is as much going on in his head as there is in the shop. That should be read and taken as a compliment. Dane is a complex dude with plenty of smarts to go around. I have endless appreciation for anyone who was “supposed to be” one thing, but decided that one thing wasn’t for him or her. And then sets out on their own path without any fear of the repercussions or opinions of others. That’s exactly what Dane did, and since then he has created something truly unique. A place that he, his customers, and friends love to be. What more can you want from a barbershop?

Follow the shop on IG @pigbarber.

Click here to read the last Q&A with Josh from Lucky’s Barbershop.

Click here to check out the book.

Click here to check out my barbershop prints.


“…..my “school” believes that being supportive is much more beneficial than being a dick.”

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1) Tell me about where you're from, what you did before you were a barber, and what led to the decision of going to barber school.

I am Southern California born and raised. I grew up in North County San Diego surfing, skateboarding, riding BMX and playing sports. When I graduated from high school I ended up attending Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Ca. Orange County was a really cool place to live then. After I graduated from college I was able to find work helping grow a kettlekorn business with a buddy of mine and work for an MMA publication writing and selling advertisements. My long term goal was to attend law school at some point, but I wasn't really dedicated to the idea nor had I worked hard enough to get into law school easily. That being said, I was impressed upon by a local barber, Mark Miller, that barber school and the subsequent profession were the best decisions he made. So not wanting to pursue a career in law lead me to become a barber instead.

Are you not a fan of living in Orange County now?

You know what’s funny about this question, is that until recently the answer would have always been "I love Orange County." And dont get me wrong, its still wonderful to me, but it has change a decent amount from the secretive, artistic, and influential coastal oasis it once was. There is so much greed and excess here now. Houses and cool communities have all given themselves away to profiteering over culture. There is a lot of gentrification that doesnt even really include the middle class families that live here. Everyone is being priced out. Luckily, there are still so many good things about the OC that make it worth staying here. Every once and awhile SD or Ventura calls my name or pulls on the heart strings. In the end though, I just know that my success really does come from being influenced by Costa Mesa and its history of surf, skate, music, art, etc. My shop wouldnt be what it is or as successful without the love the county has given to it over the years.

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2) How have your decisions as a shop owner changed over the years? What do you contribute a lot of your success to?

Honestly, and this word will answer both questions...consistency. As a shop owner my decisions haven't changed much. I started out in the shop solo. Then I hired Justin in 2015 and Richie in 2017. Even with bringing them on the consistency with which the shop is ran stayed the same. Customers make appointments the same way. The standards for the services are high. The toilet gets cleaned. The towels folded. Etc.

My success comes from busting my ass and being in the shop when its advertised that i'm in the shop. I make sure to plan days off well in advance on the scheduling software so that customers can adjust their lives to my absence. I've probably only missed a dozen days in 7 full years from being sick. And, back to the word consistency, my goal with each haircut is to make it, consistently, as close to each individual’s expectations or needs. Show up when you say you are going to be there, don't cancel on people, and do good haircuts. Easy recipe.

3) You have a very unique shop. How has it developed over the years? Why does it look the way it does?  What bothers you about it?

Thank you. It's a growing amoeba. I've actually seen some old photos of the shop recently and it was amazing to see it with nothing on the walls. I grew up in a construction/hard work/do it yourself household so its development hinges on that mentality greatly. Most of the projects in the shop I've done myself or with the help of close friends and family.

My shop takes influence from a few exact experiences in my life. I love stickers. They decorate things so well, abstractly. I used to cover things in them as a kid, but with order, not complete randomness. Another direct influence was Mark Millers shop in Costa Mesa. His style was so cool. Old posters from punk shows lined his walls along with other awesome memorabilia to look at. Surf and Skate culture across the decades are all huge influences as well. They each have their own unique styles that I really connect with.

I'm usually bothered with how much work it is to clean the shop and what a massive pain in the ass it is to change things up. I like to move things around from time to time so that when people shoot photos in the shop they get different visuals. So much work.

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How did the name Eagle & Pig come to be?

Originally, when I got the space for the shop I had a business partner named Sean. His plan was to use his knack for finding old furniture and selling it out of the shop. We were going to furnish the shop with his findings, but everything was going to be for sale. We sort of just landed on the name through word games. Eagle comes from America, simple enough. Pig comes from a few places...1960s surfboard design, men can be pigs, sailors good luck charm, Reagan has this quote "I am glad they call me a P.I.G it stands for Pride, Integrity, Guts." Sean and his wife decided that three kids were more important than me though, hahaha...so his stint in the shop selling stuff never really happened. 2020 will be 10 years in the shop.

4) How do you feel about the younger generation of barbers/celebrity barbers/instagram barbers?

I'm not necessarily a fan of them. I think that their perspective on the profession is massively skewed by becoming cool or sponsored. That's all bullshit. Its cool, and don't get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for the awesome adventures being “sponsored” has given me, but at the end of the day the barbers “sphere of influence” is wherever he or she consistently shows up, services their customers, and develops a book of business. Customer loyalty has always been a major contributing factor to a barber’s success and vice versa. Its a 2 way street relationship. Wasting time hoping that your social media pops off disallows you the opportunity to create genuine long lasting relationships with patrons who will help pay your bills for years, not just for the short period of time that “insta cool” exists. If you aren't behind your chair for long periods of time you can't expect to have customers sitting there waiting for you to come back. They dont give a shit about how cool you are at the end of the day...they just need a damn haircut.

5) One of the great things about your "school" of barbers is the support you all give each other. That doesn't happen in a lot of professions. Can you talk about that?

There are barbers who operate from a train of thought based on that consistency i've already mentioned. You show up and cut, have barbers that do the same, and you keep your patrons happy. Realistically, beef in the barbering industry is usually petty bullshit that involves short sighted and simple minded people. Supporting people should be easy. We all work in 10ft squares most of the day..not anywhere else. Some of us go out of our way to send customers, when they move away, to shops that will service them similarly or have a good reputation of quality. Having an ego in a blue collar industry like ours is just ignorant. There are enough customers to go around and my “school” believes that being supportive is much more beneficial than being a dick.

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6) Talk about the culture of your shop specifically.

My shop is an enigma, I think. It grew out of my need to have structure and believing that our customers could conform to that idea. We are a pretty no holds bar barbershop. I've got a degree in history/political science and I read a lot. I will allow the entire spectrum of conversation to happen in the shop. I make sure that people understand the concept of respect in dialogue. Not many people, let alone barbers, care enough to be educated on subjects varying from socio economic conditions, beer company politics, fuck trump, fuck hillary, gang books, girl pop music...you see where i'm going with this. I'll say, clearly, I think that barbers tend to short change their ability to be intelligent. Some “smart” ones come across as absolute fucking morons. Some “dumb” ones suppress their smarts to be cool. That being said, my shop is a haven for everyone. Everyone is both safe and vulnerable. We like to enjoy our lives because barbering is supposed to be a fun, community focused profession.We also want our customers to grow, personally, by our influence. And, get laid because of our haircuts.

Maybe you're the enigma? You were supposed to go to Law School, but didn't and instead became a barber/shop owner that is very educated and continues to read a lot, can build things with your hands, and also loves to chug beer. How does that all add up? 

Math was definitely not a strong subject for me in school, hahaha. I knew turning by back on the lawyer track in life was going to provide me with a new set of challenges. Some I knew for sure, others I had to take with stride. I don’t come from money. I DO come from a household that always taught ingenuity and hard work WILL get you by. My parents both fulfilled their specific rolls in my life and honestly most of the lessons I learned were the same, just in different circumstances. Sacrifice, courtesy, honesty, diligence, and other strong words came to me through their examples. My dad worked on the cars, was a welder, managed ranches, built homes, owned a construction company. My mom was a librarian, beach shuttle driver, cooked, helped my dad in every way she could, forced me to mount bugs and cross stitch instead of take ADD meds. I was given the responsibility at a young age to take care of portions of my life, simple things that I could handle for the age that I was. I learn visually. So watching my parents do a plethora of tasks throughout my lifetime I was able to learn a lot of little skills. The skills and the way I learned actually translated over to barbering really well. In barber school I was able to watch and learn, know when and what questions to ask, etc. Its funny how the things you might encounter or endure as a child prepare you for your future. If you decide to fine tune some of those skills into productive adulting you might just end up good at something.

As for the beers. I love beer and all the rest of the booze in this world. Im fortunate enough to not have any sort of dependency on alcohol though, that I am grateful for. As barbers we are always being exposed to cool new things. So many of my customers work for different companies in the booze world and they love sharing their knowledge and perks. Ive been fortunate enough to drink all sorts of amazing top shelf liquors. At the end of the day though, I will drink anything under the sun. You have to know how to handle yourself if you are gunna drink with me. Nobody likes a sloppy drunk. Ive been sloppy, maybe, a half dozen times since I became of legal drinking age. It just such a calming feeling to sit down at the bar top and throw a few back. Its also amazing to do keg stands or order rounds of shots or slug it down straight from the whiskey bottle.

Moral or this question: Balance is your absolute best friend.

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3 books you would recommend everyone read? 

Im gunna break these down into genres with some suggestions

1.Gang Related Autobiographies or Biographies: A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown, Monster by Sanyika Shakur, Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead by Frank Meeink, Blood in Blood Out by John Lee Brook

2.Post Modern/Modern Fiction: Anthology of Franz Kafka, Most novels by Chuck Palahniuk, House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski 

3.Philosophy: The Republic by Plato, The Will to Power by Friedrich Nietzsche, Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, Candide by Voltaire, A Modest Proposal and Paradise Lost by Jonathan Swift

4....If you plan to read and convey the "news" to people try to read the same topic across several sources and maybe cross reference the "factual" information provided. You will actually sound and BE smarter for it. 

7) Anything that bothers you on a daily basis?

Bad customers. Cocky customers. “No Call/No Shows.” I despise people who mess with the schedule. Its disrespectful to our other customers. We try to stay on schedule to our best ability, but sometimes people mess that up for us and the customers following after them. I don’t mind product in peoples hair. I can afford to buy new clippers or blades a few times a year. But what I hate is when they talk shit about weird parts of their last cut or ask for MORE product when they already have a TON in their hair. Its your dumbass fault you ALWAYS come in with product in your hair. And, you DO NOT need more product.

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8) At the end of a week, what is it you are most proud about/what gives you the most satisfaction?

Honestly...that every day/week that I show up consistently, so do my customers. My schedule is fully booked every day that I work. I cut on the 30min. Im not doing hour cuts and wasting my time filming or taking studio photos. Im proud to bust my ass for my customers. They know that I will be there, give them an above par cut, and be everything they need from me. Barber. Counselor. Friend. etc...

9) Advice for someone trying do what you do?

You cant be me, or anyone else. You have to be yourself. Barbering is an artform. It requires individuality. You have to want to be selfless. Be covered in tiny little pieces of other peoples hair day in and day out. If you want to be like me you have to provide quality service, with speed and efficiency, while maintaining a high level of educated conversation. You have to show up to work and not miss days or take days off without replacing those days. If you are getting busy or already busy its making sure that your customers have the opportunity to get their cut which helps your pocket book to remain full and their mops chopped.

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11) Random thoughts about what you do.....

Being a good barber is so much more selfless than the social media era has made it. I refer to it as the 50/50 scale. When we are in the shop we are 100% barbers. 50% technical barber. 50% personable barber. Now some of us are always going to be more technical than personable, and vice versa. The goal should be to strive for a 50/50 standard...that's what makes the most complete, well rounded barber. Somedays, you might not want to put out the effort to be personable so you can slide your technical game to 60% for the day. Or 70% if you are really grumpy. Other times you might get caught up in a good mood or vibe in the shop that takes your timing off, thought process off, steps off, messes with the game and your scale might slide to 70% personable...some of you out there that already operate at 70% personable might slide to 100% too often and thats why you lose customers to the quiet guy in the shop that puts out white hot technical haircut heat every cut. That dudes customers might be bored as shit, but they look like $1M everytime they leave the shop. Random enough Rob?

Biggest thing you've learned about yourself since passing on Law School and opening up your own shop? 

That I’m not "wasting my potential." That was a big issue for some people around me when I made the leap from possible future lawyer to barber. The idea that I would "waste” my intellect on a blue collar profession. If anything, my blue collar job choice has given me the opportunity to continue to learn, grow and be influential as human being, friend, husband, barber.

What do you get into out side the shop?

Hopefully not legal trouble. I enjoy spending time with my wife and friends. I really like being in the sun, not doing much, by a pool, with a cocktail. I surf when I can, ride my harley, work on the endless project that my truck has become. Try to relax. I am really good at stressing myself out and over working myself into shut down mode. Im trying to get better at that. I just want to find the balance between contentment and drive for more. Im gettting there slowly but surely. 

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Cape Cod

Cape Cod has been my families summer destination for as long as I can remember. It takes up a huge place in my heart, and one that I can’t possibly explain to anyone who has never been. There is something so uniquely special about it. A quality that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Winter isn’t quite done yet, at least that’s what I’m telling myself as the snowboarding itch hasn’t totally been scratched. Then again, it never really is. Still though, I’ve found myself already thinking about Cape Cod, a lot. Among the many things I look forward to every year is the seafood. Even living in San Diego where we have access to top notch seafood, I still crave the east coast offerings. Oysters being one of them. I’ll never talk about the exact location of this oyster farm, as it’s the same place we go to harvest our own clams. A little hole I hope to be going for the rest of my life. Go find your own spot.