Atlanta-based CreativeSoul Photo brought an inspiring artistic vision to life that highlights the beauty of black girls and their natural hair. Regis and Kahran are the husband and wife duo behind the photography studio, and their series Afro Art represents their expertise in capturing portraits as well as visual storytelling. The striking images feature young girls in elaborate costuming and hairstyles, from a Baroque-era aesthetic to steampunk clothing to fierce high-fashion ensembles.
What was the inspiration behind Afro Art? Why is it important to tell the stories of women of color through their hair?
We feel that it is so important for kids of color to be able to see positive images that look like them in the media. Unfortunately the lack of diversity often plays into the stereotypes that they are not “good enough” and often forces kids to have low self-esteem. We try to combat these stereotypes in our photography by showing diverse imagery of kids who love the skin they’re in, their own natural curls and their culture. We think that these stories are important to show in order to shatter the current standards of beauty. We decided to do this AfroArt series to showcase the beauty and versatility of afro hair.
Where did you get the inspiration to do your shoot the way you did it? What are some of the common themes in the showcase?
We are known for our environmental/editorial work incorporating locations, props, etc. This year we decided to do a series in studio that focused more on hairstyles and had a more serious feel than some of our location work. We decided to do the AfroArt series to showcase the beauty and versatility of afro hair.
We worked on this series in various states in the US (New York, California, Texas, Georgia). In each state we created a different theme and came up with clothing pieces and accessories that went with that theme. We had a variety of themes including Steampunk, Baroque era, and even some that were focused on a single color. It allowed us to stretch our creativity as artists and think outside the box. Even though we planned the themes, we styled each girl on set on the fly which allowed us to really stretch our imagination and keep things fresh and new.
“We feel that it is so important for kids of color to be able to see positive images that look like them in the media, unfortunately the lack of diversity often plays into the stereotypes that they are not ‘good enough’ and often forces kids to have low self-esteem.”
What was the inspiration behind the Baroque theme?
We worked on this series in various states in the US (New York, California, Texas, Georgia). In each state we created a different theme and came up with clothing pieces and accessories that went with that theme. We loved the idea of the contrast between Baroque era clothing with girls of colors wearing their bold natural hair. It is unexpected and not something that you would think about when you think of the Baroque era.
When did the shoot happen and how did you find your models?
We started photographing this series in the summer of 2016 and continued throughout the year. Models were able to sign up for styled sessions with us for the series. Several of the models used had never modeled before and had never seen their hair styled in this way.
What was the most memorable part of the shoot?
The most memorable part of the shoot was seeing the look on the girls’ faces when they saw their hair in the afro styles. As I mentioned, it was the first time for many of them seeing their hair styled in that way so it was a nice surprise for them. Most of them wanted to wear their styles home.
Do you think the girls understand the significance of the shoot and their hair?
I think most of them are a bit too young to understand the impact and significance of the shoot but we hope that one day they will be able to look back and see the beauty in themselves no matter what style they choose to wear. We also hope that it gives them the boost of confidence they need to go out and conquer the world.