I am very happy some of my work is now represented by Corbis Images. As well as Corbis commercial – ‘Crave’ , which I’m really made up to be a part of , Corbis editorial are also taking a selection of my editorial / journalistic work which until now has not been published so that’s great. I have just been printing up some images that I made in Mississippi a few months ago for the Corbis commercial select and here are some from Chandler O’cains barber shop in Canton.
I met the owners Bob ( Chandler) and Danny ( O’cain ) when I first visited the Delta on a personal photography trip years ago following my ‘apprenticeship ‘ with John Claridge ,I had seen the work of the great Delta based photographer Birney Imes ( and Eggleston of course ) and so off I decided to go, basing myself in Canton as well as other towns. I had plucked up the courage to go into their shop to ask if I might photograph the old barbers chairs that I had spied through the window. They ‘boys’ were , as all Southern folk are, incredibly welcoming and helpful , ( the phrase ‘Southern Hospitality’ is based on truth I can tell you ). So they let me set up my Wooden 5×4 Ebony camera and a old Norman battery flash in the shop and make my large Black & white negatives.
Afterward they began to direct me to all the characters and corners they knew of in the county that they thought would interest me, such as, a retired crazy revolver waving sheriff who lived in a trailer-home chewed and spat tobacco onto his floor and took regular shots at his cat who wisely lived outside! Another man who lived in a old bus and survived by making wicker baskets, then there was the little wooden cabin where Oprah Winfey was apparently born ! ( I did drive past-slowly ) and so on it went – they and their shop becoming a little ‘fixer-base’ for me. One day I turned up and a lady from the local newspaper was there wanting a little story on why this strange young man from Wales who sounded Australian, had never read Faulkner,and, talked way too fast for the Southern Ear could ever want in the Delta ? .. boy little did she know . After six weeks my money ran out and finally, reluctantly, I returned to London armed with film boxes full of celluloid treasures and ready to go out into the big new world of a professional photography career .
So, for the first time since then, I returned to Canton in February this year and was relieved to find the shop still open and that the ‘boys’ had weathered the recent depression, and, amazingly , also remembered me. They even still had the clipping from the newspaper with the picture of us all together. Now in their 70’s they still arrive at 7am everyday, ‘cept Sundees’ ready to cut the hair, shave the faces , offer advice and share in the local gossip with everyone of all walks and ages who flow endlessly through their door, ( not that there is huge population in Canton it just seems that people get their hair cut pretty often ) . So again, like before, I set up my camera and lights ( this time a Nikon D3x so no cloak over my head ) and shot them and some of their customers as they chatted, shaved and snipped away. The beautiful ornate Barber chairs -originals installed in the shop way back in 1939 when Danny’s mom was the owner are still there accommodating as ever under the ever changing abundance of Southern butts !