Photograph collection exhibits why African hair braiding is about extra than simply aesthetics

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Written by Michelle Cohan, CNN

Ghanaian photojournalist and filmmaker Carlos Idun-Tawiah shouldn’t be a fan of labels. But when he needed to choose one for himself, he’d go together with “editorial photographer.”

The 23-year-old’s trend images have graced the pages of Vogue, Essence and InStyle, exhibiting off his vibrant but composed type.

Between the wonder shoots and the flowery automobile adverts, Idun-Tawiah makes use of his digital camera to dispel misconceptions about African heritage.

“I simply like to doc tales that matter, which might be necessary, that transcend the colours or the framing,” he instructed CNN.

Ghanaian Photographer captures the cultural roots of hair braiding

Most just lately, he has targeted his lens on the cultural roots of African hair braiding and threading. After studying a publication referring to hair braiding as a “coronavirus coiffure,” Idun-Tawiah stated he felt compelled to rectify the narrative.

Earlier this 12 months, he collaborated with inventive director Josef Adamu to conceptualize a sequel to Adamu’s 2018 manufacturing, “The Hair Appointment” — a photograph collection on hair braiding throughout the Black group in Brooklyn, New York.

“(Adamu) noticed the necessity to actually put out the essence of Black hair, of why we do (several types of) braids,” Idun-Tawiah instructed CNN.

The series was shot in Accra, Ghana's capital, at a famous salon, Ebony and Ivory.

The collection was shot in Accra, Ghana’s capital, at a well-known salon, Ebony and Ivory. Credit score: Carlos Idun-Tawiah

After months of analysis and preparation, he and a crew of 5 Ghanaians got here collectively to create the second installment, titled “Obaasima,” which within the Twi language interprets to “girl of substance.”

“I felt the necessity to proceed that story in Africa to convey out the historical past, the true cause why folks braid their hair,” Idun-Tawiah stated. “It is not only for the wonder or aesthetic.”

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The type could be traced again some 5,000 years in African tradition, in line with Ntombomzi Lekgoro, a hairstylist in South Africa. She instructed CNN that each men and women used to braid their hair — and it was and nonetheless is an enormous supply of pleasure.

The braids serve as a a protective style to help with hair growth.

The braids function a a protecting type to assist with hair progress. Credit score: Carlos Idun-Tawiah

“There are completely different the explanation why we braid our hair; after I was a child my mother braided my hair to maintain it neat for varsity, then as a teen I began braiding it for progress functions and in addition for developments. … Now that I am a mother I braid my daughter’s hair for progress functions,” she stated.

The braiding itself does not yield progress; as a substitute, it is the protecting nature of the braids that permits for it — although the method of getting there includes a variety of tugging and pulling.

As a result of the salon appointments final a number of hours, they’re social occasions in and of themselves, a component Idun-Tawiah needed to seize in his collection.

The photo essay has three parts: picking out a style, the process of the braiding and the ensuing fashion shoot to model off the new look.

The picture essay has three components: choosing out a method, the method of the braiding and the following trend shoot to mannequin off the brand new look. Credit score: Carlos Idun-Tawiah

“Obaasima” has three components, he instructed CNN. “(The images) moved from the method of what you needed to do together with your hair, to the method of getting your hair carried out — the expertise of being within the salon with the hair braiders — to the runway section, capturing the enjoyable of being a lady,” he stated.

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“It was necessary for us to create this story in Ghana in an effort to stay genuine to type, inspiration, and in addition to pay homage to hair braiding origins,” Idun-Tawiah added.

Christel Kattenstroth poses with her finished hairstyle inside an orange car with a matching outfit.

Christel Kattenstroth poses along with her completed coiffure inside an orange automobile with an identical outfit. Credit score: Carlos Idun-Tawiah

As for the longer term, he stated he is all the time on the lookout for the following story that wants its fact instructed.

“I positively sit up for having extra exhibitions, correcting numerous misconceptions and the world being educated by way of my work,” he stated. “That to me is greater than sufficient.”

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