Join, or Die

Swagger & Blade
Swagger & Blade | 30 April, 2022 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 R WR

This one is from the set I took during the field trip with the Princeton Photo Workshop. We had exhausted our efforts at the Asbury Park boardwalk and walked our way into the downtown area of Asbury Park. This is where one will find most of the restaurants, odd-ball shops, and art studios of the town. This scene caught my attention because of the sign above the barber’s head with the snake symbol and the words "Join, or Die".

I was not familiar with the phrase. I mentioned it to my eldest, Shaan, who had completed Advanced Placement United States History in high school. She said it was a well-known symbol and phrase coined by Benjamin Franklin before and during the American Revolutionary War. Benjamin Franklin created this political cartoon as a commentary on the disunity of the Thirteen Colonies during the French and Indian War. He later used it to encourage the colonies to unite for the cause of independence.

One distinctive feature of Swagger & Blade is how the front opens directly to the street. The barbershop was opened in October 2011 by Master Barber Shane Bruno, shortly after spending four years in the United States Army 82nd Airborne division, but he has been cutting hair since he was 14 years old. Local family owned barbershops like Swagger & Blade are a rarity in New Jersey. Most traditional barbershops have disappeared to be replaced by corporate-owned strip mall chains.


This image is from a RAW image edited in Adobe Lightroom. I wanted to focus the viewer on the barber, the customer and the sign. I used the shadow tool and exposure tools to darken the inside of the barbershop.

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