Beards of Ipswich

What began as a simple idea has turned into something getting national attention, as the very first ‘Beards of Ipswich Calendar’ goes on sale.

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The brainchild of local photographer and relative newbie to the ‘Beard Club’ Jason McNamara has already given interviews to media all over the place, including ABC612, ABC Hobart, and appeared on Network Ten’s ‘Studio 10’ talking about the calendar, which has captured people’s imagination Australia-wide.

Available online, the calendar is already into a second print run, and with all profits going to beyondblue, the calendar features a collection of some of the best beards of Ipswich in amusing and creative situations.

“It all started with my commitment to laziness,” Jason told Ipswich Life. “I had the chance to let my facial hair go for a while, and once my beard got past the ‘goatee’ stage it turned into something that had its own personality.

“The truth is you don’t choose a beard, it chooses you and I ended up with a grey ‘Bushranger’ style beard. All of a sudden I found myself in a situation similar to when you buy a new car. You see the same model as yours, but in different colours, with added extras. I found I was in some kind of ‘Beard Club’ and I got the idea of showcasing some of the beards of Ipswich in a calendar for a good cause.”

The result has been a big hit, with local men sporting their beards in a number of humorous poses such as Jesus with a surfboard, Ned Kelly singing Karaoke, Santa checking his production results, a garden adventurer, a ‘Hangover’ tribute and many more.

“Many of these guys have had beards for years, they haven’t jumped on the beard bandwagon. One guy has had it for 37 years, another for 7 years…these are big chunks of their lives. Some feel if they shave it off they lose a bit of themselves, it’s who they are.

“I guess It’s a manly thing, and there are so many styles to choose from which is reflected in the calendar.”

Jason searched Ipswich for his ‘Beard Models’, and was surprised by how everyone got on board the project.

“Many of them were just customers at the coffee shop I visit daily, and I started handing out my card. Others were just people I met on the street, and I got such a positive reaction. Once I mentioned to them that I was doing this to raise money for beyondblue they loved the idea.

“I chose beyondblue as it’s something close to my heart. I have friends and family close to me who have suffered depression, and I admire their marketing. They always put a bit of humour into what they do, and this ties in well with the charity, but at the end of the day it’s a great cause.

“I appeared on Studio 10 promoting the calendar. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but since then I’ve been getting orders from all over Australia. Perth, Darwin, Adelaide…everywhere!

“The rule for the models was always simple, you have to either be from Ipswich, live in Ipswich or work in Ipswich. I’ve had lots of people send me photos once the call went out but they weren’t from Ipswich, and I had to stick to my guns. I had one guy in Melbourne who has suffered depression for many years, had a beard and was willing to fly up on his own accord to be in the calendar.

“I hope it becomes an annual thing. I will keep mine at least for a while, and then I plan to shave it off and then grow it back…but I plan to take a photo of myself every day as it grows back!”

Look on Facebook and search for ‘Beards of Ipswich’ or visit jasonmcnamara.com.au