Beards of Brantford by Paul Smith (@_photohouse)

It was a brisk evening in winter. A few close friends and I lounged comfortably in the living room at a fondue party. I can’t remember who thought of the idea, but I can remember counting on my fingers the number of people I knew that had beards. The title followed naturally, beards of Brantford. The inevitable question bubbled up in my mind. Why? Why would anyone care about beards? Then I asked a more important and provoking question. Why not?

The list of potential projects for any artist is always a long one. For me, the ones that seem the most emotionally rewarding become a reality. One of my favourite artists is Jeanne-Claude and Christo. Their art often consisted of wrapping fabric around very large things, or placing thousands of colourful umbrellas along a highway. Why? Because it was cool. Their art had no political or social meaning weighing it down, it didn’t pander to any particular demographic of people, and most importantly to me, it embodied the idea that art provokes thought and stimulates discussion about the world we live in.

Tomorrow it may be single parents, or cancer survivors, or same-sex couples, but today it’s beards. Much of the project is based on the idea of individuality and expression. Beards are as diverse and unique as the people who wear them. And beyond the meaning of it all, they’re cool.

When the project started it consisted of one shoot and a gallery at the end of this year. Once the project grew legs I thought 100 beards was a nice round number to strive for (Or 99 to be true to Brantford). So, this is a call to all Beards of Brantford. If you are interested in being a part of this project please contact me at

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