Nate and Travis Dorn have been staples of the Atlanta photo scene for as long as anyone can remember. Both of them were kind enough to give us a few insights about their newest endeavour:

Your new project is entitled The Chronicles of Follicles. Tell us a little about the project.

Well, we noticed the “growing” trend with facial hair over the last few years and to be honest we just thought everyone was starting to copy us.  But, no, beards are back and it’s a pretty hairy situation.  Since we were both five, we’ve been cultivating and sculpting different hairdos on our faces and we thought it’d be cool to do a photo project on the subject. We firmly believe that beards are reincarnated souls that have come back to guide us. Every beard has a story to tell, which is why it grows so close to the mouth. This is our attempt to tell those stories and maybe even give a little glimpse into the man behind the beard, albeit, just a slight one.

Because you used big words, I had to check the dictionary, and it seems a follicle is a cluster of cells from where hair grows. Is it safe to say the project stays above the neckline?

Oh yes, you could almost say it hovers. During our research with some local industrial shamans, we ascertained that the bristly appendage that germinates from a man’s face (and some lucky women) is actually larger then it appears.  Beards have auras you know, and some of them can be quite large, actually filling entire rooms.

Are some of these photos based on true stories?

Well, to quote Abe Lincoln, “If the eyes are the window to the soul, then the beard is the doorway to the mouth.”  You can always trust a man with a decent beard to be truthful.

Was the workload split 50-50, or did one of you contribute more than the other?

We like to think of ourselves as an entity.  A collection of two brains working in tandem like a school of fish swimming together as a single unit or a swarm of two very large, flightless bees.  It’s almost as if we know what the other is thinking before they do.  In fact, we’d go as far as to say that we know what the other is thinking even when they don’t.  This explains why we never remember what we say…

Were grooming tips shared between you guys and the subjects?

We don’t like to take that much control of our subjects.  We’d much prefer for them to grow their own way… a free-range beard that reaches maturity on its own accord.  We would never dream of forcing a man’s art into something that it’s not.  The style of beard determines the character.

Did any of your ideas end up on the cutting room floor?

Yes, well, the sink basin rather.  We had these grand illusions of a garden gnome in a Scandinavian fortress that never came to fruition.  As was mentioned earlier, we cannot force a beard into any character unwillingly and the gnome’s beard never presented itself.  Just as well though, our budget was stretched thin as it was and airfare for two Dorns and a gnome to Oslo might have put us under.

The lighting seems very deliberate. Did you plan ahead for each shot or adjust the lights once you began?

We knew the style of light we wanted for this project so we set the lights accordingly before the subject stepped in front of the camera.  However, like most things go, there were adjustments to be made.  Take a Christmas tree for example.  You know you’re probably going to use the same lights and ornaments you used for who knows how long, but no two trees are the same and the application changes every time you do it.  A big bushy beard is no different, save for a few less ornaments.

Was there any shaving after the photos were done?

Only for the ones who were unlucky enough to be caught.

Any advice for the man trying to grow the perfect beard?

First off, there is no longer such a thing.  The “perfect” beard went into extinction sometime in the late 19th century and we were left with its prickly, overly evolved cousin.  It’s a sad situation that we’ve all come to be part of and hair in general seems to be working its way out of commission.  It won’t be long before the human race is nothing more than bald versions of the past, shivering in the cold, and owing more traits to worms than to beasts.

However, we still encourage you to give a home to the most visible trait of a man and grow a beard while you’re able.  I will warn you that it takes patience and commitment and is not for the immature.  If you are willing to answer the call of man, then toss out your razors and prepare for months of frustration, joy, and catharsis as you witness the miracle of life take place on your face.  It takes around nine months for a good beard to properly gestate and another nine months to cultivate it into a work of art.  It’s a process, sure, but that’s why the rewards are so great.

The Chronicles of Follicles continues at the MINT Gallery through Oct. 31.