the one chair wonder

Pete Cranfield is a barber of much renown. Famed for his quality, style and his unique take on male grooming, Cut Throat Pete has been making even bigger big waves since opening his Liverpool, Gradwell Street shop in 2014…

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I’d spoken to Pete’s agent Jo, of Bananafish Management, at the back end of 2014 about collaborating with Pete, but unfortunately due to both our crazy schedules it has taken until today for us to finally get together and make some images…

The first thing I notice upon entering Cut Throat Pete’s is that the shop is full of personality! Often shops and salons are just white boxes that smell like your sisters bedroom when she’s getting ready to go out on a Saturday night! But not Cut Throat Pete’s. The lovely big window allows the shop to flood with natural light which helps to illuminate this fabulous creative space. It is like a treasure trove full of Pete’s loves! Pete explains ‘I wanted to create a space that didn’t necessarily look like a Barber Shop, I wanted it to look quiet industrial, like a loft, studio. It contains loads of things that have been given to me by people and little odds that I’ve picked up on my travels. I think it’s got a bit of a man cave feel’

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I love the funky chrome cycle in the window, the crank shaft and pistons, the skate board, the miniature kennel for his little mate Buddy who is unfortunately absent today; I love dogs! The only thing I am not immediately sold on is Pete’s choice of background music… country and western with a rock edge (I never loved country)… but I have to say it does fit in with the happy atmosphere Pete has so carefully created and by the time I leave, Ok yeah I admit it, I was tapping my feet…

The most notable thing in Pete’s shop is the distinct lack of customer chairs; not the kind you lounge around on whilst you are waiting, but the kind you sit in for your cut. This leads me to ask the question, why only one chair Pete? And what’s with the guaranteed 45minute sitting?

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It’s what I’ve wanted to do for a few years, I like giving my client 100% of my time and attention, and they feel like they are receiving a special service. I never have to worry about people interrupting a client’s time in the chair. A lot of men comment on how relaxed they feel after their time in the chair’

 ’45 minutes is a perfect amount of time to create a premium quality haircut. It allows me to chat to my client and allows them to feel like I’m not rushing them in and out. It makes my days really enjoyable. I haven’t got a rush in me as anybody that knows me will tell you!!’

This is the first time for me photographing a professional barber. I have been in many places, situations and had to work in some challenging lighting conditions whilst taking photos of people, so I wasn’t wary about how to approach the technical aspect, or working within the confines of a shop; but photographing someone who is moving, interacting with a customer, focusing on them, not on me, is something new. Pete’s first customer was more than happy for me to be snapping whilst Pete groomed him.  It took me a little while to find the angles that worked, but Pete made it so easy; he is very photogenic and has lots of genuine expression.

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It had never occurred to me until seeing Pete at work, just what an art form barbering actually is. The fine tuning, the attention to detail, the time, effort and love that Pete puts into his barbering is quite extraordinary. It’s like watching a fine artist at work, watching a piece of art come to life, and I guess in reality that’s what Pete actually is- an artist!

Pete’s cutting style is his own. He doesn’t ever try to be like anybody else. He explained that when he was first starting out, he always said that he wanted to be able to do any haircut that came to him perfectly. He takes his inspiration from fashion and he reads a lot too.

Pete has barbered for some of the most recognisable talents. Musician Example, England International Wayne Rooney, Singer/ Entertainer Ray Quinn to name but a few. We talk about the celebrity heads and faces that Pete has shaven and we discuss how word of mouth is massively important in both our professions.

As we are talking, a shiny white Range rover pulls up right outside the shop window. Pete says “Here’s John Stones!’

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John Stones is a Professional Footballer who plays for Pete’s team Everton. My spidy senses light up, I smell a photo opportunity…

John enters and greets Pete like they are best of mates. It is obvious to me that John has utmost respect for Pete and what he does.

Acting on my spidy senses, I ask John if he is ok with me floating around taking photos whilst Pete does his hair. To photograph Pete working on a celebrity client would make for great images for this feature! Pete further explains what we are up to and John agrees that it is fine. It would have been awkward if John had not wanted some strange Photographer sticking a camera in his face, but he was a great sport and an absolute gent.

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Again Pete goes to work doing what he does best, creating a work of art. It is the most painless process I have ever seen. He floats around the client seamlessly putting together the exact look desired, exchanging stories, laughing and joking whilst obviously remaining fully focused on the job in hand. That in itself is gift only a few can do. Pete makes it look easy, but that is what great artists do. People who are exceptional at, and love what they do, always make it look so easy… when it most definitely isn’t!

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Before I know it, its over and it doesn’t feel like 45 minutes have passed, but they have! I have taken over 100 images and it feels like I have taken 10! John is obviously happy with the final look. Giving Pete a big handshake and has the courtesy to shake my hand and thanks me too. What a gentlemen!

I ask Pete if he feels anymore pressure when working with celebrities?

He says ‘Everybody receives exactly the same service. I pride myself on being professional in my work. My customers never make me feel pressured at all, I feel really lucky as I am sure there are some nightmare customers that people have to deal with’

Pete is so obviously exceptional at what he does, I ask him if he has always had confidence in his own ability?

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Pete says ‘I have always been confident in my work because as an apprentice I worked really hard. I was adamant that I wouldn’t start cutting hair on the shop floor until my work was of a good enough standard. I take a lot of pride in my work so I am confident that my work is always of the highest standard’

I suggest to Pete that to finish the shoot, he sit in his chair for a few final photos. I ask him to show me his personality, just be himself. Pete is a happy soul. He has created a shop that reflects that and has a powerfully positive vibe. After only a few hours in his company it is obvious to me that Pete has good times ahead, I wonder what the future holds for Cut Throat Pete?

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Pete says ‘I have so many plans. I would like to expand my brand and have my clothing stocked in some really cool independent retailers around the world. I am constantly looking on ways to grow’ 

And your barbering ambitions?

“As a Barber you never stop learning. I aim to learn something new all the time, I like looking for ways to use my tools to create new techniques and new looks. My ambition is to be the best Barber I can be and to keep my clients looking good”

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I am sure you will succeed in all you do Pete, cheers & good luck fella!

 

Words & photos: Lance Burkitt  #insta @lanceburkittphoto

You can follow Pete on social media  #insta @cutthroatpete

Thanks to Jo at bananfish

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