2015-12-11 Facial hair can be a serious business, as photographer Cristopher Benitah found out recently when he went along to photograph contestants at the quirky US National Beard and Moustache Championship.
The annual championship, this year hosted by the King’s Theatre in Brooklyn, is attended by bearded wonders from over thirty US States and includes no less than sixteen categories across three groups.
Swedish photographer and now NYC resident Cristopher Benitah – a proud beard wearer himself – was commissioned by the Hanes clothing brand to go and shoot everything from a Dali moustache and a goatee natural to a partial beard freestyle with sideburns.
“I was commissioned to shoot the competing men as well as ‘behind the scenes’ images,” he says. “I knew that I could only use minimal gear but I wanted the best result possible. We weren’t allowed to visit the location prior to the shoot so I opted for a one light set-up, a simple strobe with an Octabox + grid to limit the spread of light.
“I knew I had to do a little action shooting as well as controlled lighting so the Hasselblad H5D-50c was the obvious choice for me due to its high ISO capability. I went all the way to 6400 but noticed that I could get away with underexposed 3200, which gave me more control over the noise. The big challenge came when the initial 15 contestants turned into a total of 67, and I only had three hours to capture all of them. The camera’s True Focus function really played a vital part here since it enabled me to lock focus and reframe very quickly.”
Being Swedish himself, it is extra special for Cristopher to be using a Hasselblad again and he knew from the moment that the H5D-50c and CFV-50c were announced that they would be the right gear for him. “Working at a digital ad agency in Manhattan we usually have an unrealistic timeline to get our work done and out the door,” he says. “Yet, our clients expect the work to be of highest quality. The H5D-50c allows me to be flexible, and I can shoot quickly and often work outside of a studio. This camera delivers a different kind of aesthetic that gives my work a cohesive but distinctive look.”