Beard by Matthew Rainwaters

Book Review: Beard, By Matthew Rainwaters

Dave Jensen and His BeardIn reviewing Beard by Matthew Rainwaters, I was reminded of a few important things:

  1. I should never have shaved that extra 3 inches off my beard before Thanksgiving.
  2. Every guy should grow interesting facial hair at least once in his life.
  3. Competitive bearding is very serious business.

Beard chronicles this final point through first hand accounts given to Rainwaters by men who made the trek to the 2009 World Beard and Moustache Championships in Anchorage, Alaska. One competitor speaks of how “chin-pube politics coupled with a bit of beard envy provided for a ‘Best In Show’ vibe” throughout the event. Competition aside, Beard paints a picture of a variety of men of different ages and backgrounds coming together to show their love for the sport of bearding.Kris Payne and His Beard

Rainwaters shot the photos you’ll find in the book using a light that didn’t create any shadows on the faces of his subjects. This helped put the focus on the beards and the characters behind them as they were intended to be seen, which is one of the reasons these photos work so well. As far as the types of facial hair you can expect to see in Beard, there’s everything from traditional full beards and handlebar mustaches, to Gerhard Knapp’s freestyle full beard that defies gravity in ways you’d never believe possible.

Markus Bruss and His BeardBeard does a great job of documenting the experiences of some of the competitors, (including Rainwaters’ friend, Craig Steckbeck, who grew out his beard for 2 years in preparation for the event) and of showing the rest of us just how inadequate our beards really are. If you don’t get the book for the amazing photos, you can get it as a guide to your next beard style.

Beard, by Matthew Rainwaters
Chronicle Books

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