This is going to be a slightly different type of entry. But first, a little backstory on the image in question. I photographed this small cascade at Diana's Baths, just outside North Conway, New Hampshire, in the winter of 2020. I had decided to head to New Hampshire for a couple of days of winter photography, to capture scenes just like this one- snow covered pines, framing a frozen stream, with water cascading. I couldn't have created a more perfect scene if I could have placed the elements myself. The sky was mostly gray but as I set up at the edge of the stream to capture this particular cascade, the sun began to try and burn through the overcast, creating a soft, warm glow over the scene. This was all just before the snowpack I was standing on, which, unbeknownst to me was simply an icy overhang over the stream, collapsed, and I found myself knee deep in frigid mountain water. Not the first time that had happened, probably won't be the last. Thankfully, the walk to the car was short and my sloshing shoes and pants told me it was time to call it a day. But "Winter Cascade" was made.
An Unlikely Collaboration: How My Image Inspired a Shave Soap
So that's the short version of how I made the photo. Let's fast-forward to this past summer. I had gotten into traditional wet shaving. While that may sound self-explanatory, traditional wet shaving uses a double edged safety razor, kind of like my grandfather used to use rather than cartridges, and also uses more traditional shaving soaps, rather than foam in a can. While I still use a cartridge razor at times due to the ease of use and speed, the thing I've found I really enjoy about traditional wet shaving is the shaving soaps. There is a vibrant and diverse community of artisans creating shaving soaps from all-natural ingredients. I've found my face responds much better to these soaps, and I enjoy the creativity these artisans employ in coming up with unique scents for the soaps. It actually makes a daily task more fun and enjoyable.
Last summer, an artisan named Robert Cipolla entered the wet shaving market. Robert is the owner of Hoffman's Shave & Soap Co., based in Toms River, NJ. Robert's first shave soap was an homage to the original Shulton's Old Spice scent, which was retired when Old Spice was purchased by Proctor & Gamble in 1990. Robert named his scent "Burn The Ships". I love the scent. It reminds me of my grandfather, who was an Old Spice guy, so there's a sense of nostalgia there. Shortly after, Robert also released one called Merlin, and another called "The Great Reset". These are among my favorite scents in shave soaps. Each one is different and captures a different feeling.
Robert has now released 20 different shave soap scents, which also have matching aftershave splashes and colognes. Scents range from the Old Spice homage, to a pine scented soap called "Dogfight", to a barbershop type scent called "Phantom 309", which is based on an old country western song about a hitchhiker picked up by a ghost trucker. There are a bunch of others, including a coffee-based scent called Affogato, several Halloween and autumn themed scents, and a couple of Christmas-specific scents. I love the backstories Robert gives his scents, and as a former graphic designer, his label designs are works of art themselves.
I first chatted with Robert when I ordered my first soap from him, which was "Burn the Ships". We quickly connected over wet shaving, and of course I mentioned that I am a photographer. He took a look at my website and later told me how impressed he was and mentioned that in particular, "Winter Cascade" really struck him.
As Robert told me, "I have something called Seasonal Depression (For me, it’s the summer). I saw this picture on Rick's website and I was blown away. Well he graciously let me use it for our upcoming release called “Winter Cascade”."This picture gives me hope.....hope for more comforting times.....hope for better days....hope to be a better man! Just hope..."
Winter Cascade really spoke to him and provided him with a level of calm. I've previously written about how looking at nature photography can help improve mental health, but having someone tell me very clearly that my work helps them was definitely something special.
As we chatted more, Robert asked if I'd allow him to use my image for a winter scent soap that he would call "Winter Cascade". Of course I said yes. Robert came up with the general scent notes, and after sending the mix to me for my opinion, we finalized the scent together. The final scent is a crisp, outdoorsy, clean scent made up of floral, spice, gardenia, frankincense, musk, and oakmoss. To me, it smells like being back in those woods with the stream running past and the waterfall flowing over the rocks as a light snow falls. I never thought I'd have one of my images on a label for shaving soap and aftershave, let alone inspire the scent.
Sometimes you just never know! If you can't tell, I really love the Hoffman's shave soaps. I've also tried his bath bars as well, and really like them. I strongly recommend them. And if you're a guy who's tired of the foam in a can for shaving, I can't recommend Hoffman's shave soaps strongly enough!