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Portrait of the world’s oldest barber

July 2018 issue

Portrait of the world’s oldest barber

107-year-old Anthony Mancinelli

Anthony Mancinelli, named by Guinness World Records as the oldest barber on Earth, celebrated his 107th birthday this year. He began cutting hair in 1924, hasn’t stopped, and has no intention to. He’s an inspiration: He lives alone, still drives, gets his own groceries, and is in perfect health.

My dad, Frank Ferrara, who turns 79 this year, has been a barber since his West Point days, working in various shops throughout his life. He’s known Anthony for years, so I’ve heard about him for a long time. I finally met him a while back, and knew I had to get this iconic man to my studio for a session. 

My dad picked up Anthony for the session and drove him to the studio. When they arrived, Anthony was out of the car faster than my dad, and my dad is in great shape! Anthony loved the studio.

I like to shoot with really big light sources. My main setup is a strobe-based Dynalite: an 8-foot octabank, a 3-foot one, two 12x48-inch strip banks with grids, and one background light with grid. That’s five strobe lights, and I float between using all of them to using just one, depending on the look. My other setup involves just one continuous fluorescent 24x36-inch soft box and various reflectors. Even though the color temperature is daylight balanced for that light, the look I get with strobes is more my style.

My game plan with Anthony was to keep it simple with my standard face-up lighting setup: a very large soft source behind the camera with a small added light source somewhat above or off to the side. I didn’t have too much time, so I used the strip banks and one continuous light. Given that the session was just 30 minutes, I was pleased with the results.

According to Anthony, there are three secrets to living past 100: no drinking, no smoking, and limited television. But most of all, he advises, stay active. His grandfather lived to 103 and perhaps would have lived longer had he not fallen from a tree while picking fruit. Moral of the story: Leave tree climbing to the young.

James Ferrara owns J.Ferrara Photography Inc., located in Cornwall, New York. 

Tags: portrait photography

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