Damien Carney relocated to New York City three years ago after a long time in Los Angeles. What he likes about Manhattan is that he can roll out of bed, grab his camera, find a model and do an impromptu photo shoot. Carney began photographing his own work about six years ago when he realized that the high-end fashion photographers he knew saw no benefit in working with him on projects that he found interesting as a hairdresser. “The reality is that the kind of hair that inspires hairdressers is of no interest to them,” he says.
“They’re looking at hair in a different way—it’s all about balance and proportion.” For Carney, photography allows him to search for beauty through art. We asked him to share some images from a new collection that explores the dimensions of texture and shine. The photos, he says, have no commercial value. He simply asked makeup artist Aya Kudo to collaborate with him to create something they could put in their portfolios, an exercise that can be liberating for any creative person because there are no parameters, no rules, no client to please. “I used hair the way a sculptor would use clay,” says Carney, who let his instincts guide him. “I wondered what would happen if I used an iron to mangle nylon hair. How would that change the texture and shape of it?” says Carney, who tries not to let fear limit him. “Fear is the one thing that stops people in their tracks. I’m old enough now that I’m not afraid to experiment. If I get a kick out of it, I’m happy. I don’t care what other people think.”
What happens when hairdressers decide to pick up a camera and photograph their own work? We asked a few of them who are following in the footsteps of the greats, from David Raccuglia to Damien Carney.