kelly zhu

St. Edward's University

This collection of photographs comes from the time I spent following and documenting members of the Austin Facial Hair Club (AFHC) individually and at group events. The club was founded in 2007 and represents Austin, Texas at various beard and moustache competitions in the U.S. and around the world. As the club travels nationally and internationally, they continue to spread awareness about the world of competitive facial hair growing. Many members of the club have won various awards and recognitions for their facial hair and are also a part of the show “Whisker Wars” on the Independent Film Channel (IFC). The club holds events around Austin to spread awareness and overall, to have a good time. Though most of the members consist of men, there are also women who are members and facial hair enthusiasts. The title Come and Shave It is taken from the popular phrase “Come and Take It”, which appeared on a flag during the first battle of the Texas Revolution against Mexico, the Battle of Gonzales. To this day, the phrase and the flag it appeared on continue to evoke a strong sense of Texas pride, and Come and Shave It aims to portray the same sense of Texas independence and individuality regarding facial hair culture in Austin, Texas.

My personal interest in facial hair stemmed from my enthusiasm for the Irish and Scottish cultures, Vikings, Celtic history, and Norse mythology. Through my research, I became interested in the role of facial hair for men and gods and how it conveys power, strength, courage, and masculinity. I wanted the images in Come and Shave It to capture the distinctive personalities of the members of the club and individuals involved in the world of facial hair. The images and captions act as a sociological study on the social norms related to facial hair and gender, and the idea of power and masculinity in our society today. The images were shot on a medium format Hasselblad camera, for its unique framing, and with color Kodak Portra 120 film ISO 400/800 for its color saturation and detail in the

highlights and shadows.