On NE 17th Avenue in North Miami Beach, Florida, sits a little house sandwiched between The Good Year Tire Company and Fulford Elementary School. In this cramped location, my Grandfather, Nunzio Capizzi, also known as “The Baron,” lives and runs his barbershop. Over the past 60 years, my Grandfather has accumulated eclectic memorabilia from politically incorrect signage and customers’ forgotten dentures to bowling trophies and plastic lawn signs used as planters. Each day, he navigates through these objects and continues cutting hair, watching television, tending to his garden, cooking, and smoking cigars.
Six years ago when I started taking photography classes, I began to look at my family through my camera lens. I became interested in capturing the scenarios that unfold in their daily lives. With camera in hand, I was both a fly on the wall and an active participant in these scenes. As I continued shooting, I realized the star of my photography was my Grandfather. I began paying close attention to his life in and out of the barbershop. Despite living with chronic pain due to spinal stenosis, he continues with his routine. Photographing my Grandfather gave me a new perspective on the man that he is.
He allowed me to observe and record his personal world. I followed him as he tended his garden and secretly smoked cigars (he is not supposed to smoke and cuts the cigars in half to “minimize” the effect), caught him as he ate out of an ice cream container, and witnessed his most vulnerable moments as his daughter and physical therapist, Annette, stretched and massaged him. These moments have attuned me to the nuanced qualities of my Grandfather’s life. Using a 35 mm camera with black and white film, I was inspired to capture the delicate subtleties of his daily routine. At the entrance of his 95th year, I introduce you to The Baron.