Joshua Coombes and Valérie Jardin are transforming the world through what may be the simplest and most graceful humanitarian movement on earth — one person, one conversation and one photograph at a time.
Coombes, a British hairdresser, teamed up with Jardin, a renowned street photographer in early September 2017 on the Streets of New York City to provide free haircuts to people living on the streets and document the experience through photographs and stories. The pair recently published an eBook about their partnership. The book’s proceeds help Coombes continue his work around the world. The download is available here: https://gumroad.com/l/jxNCJ
But it’s not about haircuts. Or homelessness.
Coombes says his movement, #DoSomethingForNothing, is ultimately about making time in a world full of distractions to notice the people around us. To be a beacon of hope in the present moment.
“Even if you can’t give back realistically, you can still give ten minutes of your day to talk to someone,” Coombes says. “Your ‘do something for nothing’ might be different than mine. It might not be working with the homeless. It’s about using your skills or time to make others smile in your community. We have to use something as powerful as social media for good where we can. You can change things. It starts small, then builds.”
Coombes first got the idea for #DoSomethingForNothing when he was chatting with a young homeless man on the street in London.
“It just came about one day,” he says.
He’d chatted with the man before, but this time, as they talked, Coombes noticed his ragged, matted hair and thought a haircut might lift his spirits. Coombes had his haircutting supplies with him, so he asked the man if he’d like a trim and got to work there right on the spot.
That moment sparked the idea that led to an incredible and international journey. Since then, Coombes, along with his scissors and his message, have traveled and trimmed around the globe, connecting with people on the streets, from London and Paris to Mexico City and New York.
During their time NYC, Jardin, an official Fujifilm X-Photographer, documented the interactions between the hairdresser and his impromptu clients with her Fuji X100F while Coombes worked his magic, smiles and conversation spilling out onto the streets like sunshine. She also utilized a Fujifilm Instax mini printer connected via WIFI with a cell phone to give people instant photos of themselves sporting their new hair styles. The New York City project was made possible by Fujifilm North America Corporation, which brought the pair together.
Working with Coombes, Jardin says, was emotional, exhilarating and transformational.
“This has changed my life. Everything else I’ve ever done with my camera, just doesn’t measure up to this experience. It’s the ultimate storytelling project. We’re a team and it just feels so good. We’re in such dark times and it gives me hope.”
What’s next? Jardin and Coombes are busy promoting the eBook and plan to continue working together wherever possible. A photography exhibition may also be in the works.
Follow the project on social media, including Instagram, through the #DoSomethingForNothing hashtag and via the following links:
**All photographs copyright Valérie Jardin 2017