Social media brings out Wellington’s bearded community for snaps
Mr Valli, pictured, said he was surprised at the response from social media and has had about 10 people from Twitter and two from Facebook taking up the opportunity to be photographed.
“Someone who I have shot has put it on Reddit, I have had about 10 or so emails in the past 24 hours from that, and traffic from my website has gone through the roof.”
He has also seen people go past his Arthur St studio and chased after them.
“I have been randomly approaching random bearded men and asking them to come in.”
He also approached bearded men at Beervana to get an initial response.
“Obviously there’s a large contingency of bearded men around there.”
He said one or two of the men at Beervana noticed Wellington had a lot more beards than Auckland, where they were from.
“I think it is kind of a bit of a Wellington thing.”
When people come in to be photographed Mr Valli sets them up with simple lighting and shoots with the subjects staring off camera.
He said he wanted to have a consistent look across the full series of pictures with a more moody style.
“We’ve got these burley dudes being portrayed in this softer sort of manner,” he said.
Once he has taken the photos Mr Valli plans to exhibit them through either the Advertising and Illustrative Photographers Association November exhibition, or a Solo exhibition and book.
Mr Valli does not have a set goal as to how many photos he will take but said he would like enough to put together a book with information about his subjects.
“I haven’t actually got a target in mind, I’ll shoot until bearded men stop coming into the studio.”
Despite being active on social media for quite a while, Mr Valli still believes he has a lot to learn.
“I’m finding this project is teaching me about how to use Twitter a little bit more.”
Mr Valli said that he was unaware of how many other New Zealand photographers are reaching out to people via social media but said they use a lot of people off the street.
Live in Wellington? Have a mighty beard? Not shy in front of a camera? Then I'd like to hear from you. Get in touch today!
— Michael Valli Photo (@MikeValli_Photo) August 9, 2013
Usually he focuses on architecture and interior photographs but decided to try something new with this portrait series.
“It was something to challenge me creatively to do something different,” he said.
Mr Valli can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org