2016 / Editorial / Photo Essay


  • Photographer
    Andrei Iliescu

I feel like a little boy in a toy store when I’m sitting in front of a barber shop. I’ve been in many barbershops on many streets around the world, and each time I had the same strange feeling of stepping into another dimension. The barbershop is a masculine place. The barbershop is a unique place for men to socialize. The barbershop is the man’s home away from home, a place where people always find a welcome and friendly audience. People go to have their hair cut or get shaved in what they feel are the most important moments of their lives: before Christmas, Easter, Ramadan or Hanukah, before getting married, before graduation or even before burial. A barber does not need too many special effects to set up his tiny universe. In Varanasi, on the bank of the holy Ganges River, a chair and a fabric canopy was everything a barber needed to create his magic place. Just a stone throw farther down, the ash of the dead darkens the muddy waters. In Portugal, the barbershop is where soccer fans gather. Among family pictures, prizes, diplomas, icons and all kinds of collections, the barber is a poet and a psychologist as well. In Turkey or Palestine it's a place where one can have a cup of tea and a relaxed chat with a perfect stranger. At the foot of the sand hills in Merzouga or within the walls of Jerusalem, in Havana or Yangon, Palermo or Kathmandu, the bell that rings when you enter the barber shop has a universal effect: you leave your worries and burdens at the doorstep, you make peace with yourself and, suddenly the wide-smiling man in the white gown becomes the best friend you ever had. And then the ritual begins.

I’m a photographer based in Bucharest, Romania. Since 1990 I started working as a photographer for press agencies (AFP, EPA, Sygma and AP) then moved towards commercial photography. Now I’m engaged in the documentary field working mainly on personal long-term projects. I travel a lot, being fascinated by the culture and vision of the various people from all around the world. www.andreiiliescu.com