"the.essence_" (Natural Hair Photography Project)

February 23, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

A project I’ve been putting all of my energy into lately is “the.essence_”. If you follow me on any of the social media outlets I frequent, you may already know a little bit about this project. I would like to talk about both how it came to be and my experiences thus far.


A few weeks ago, I was laying on my couch thinking about my photography. I had not really come up with the concept for a cumulative project and successfully completed it. I attempted something similar with my 365 Project, which was a project where I shot a different photo for every day of the year. Due to some personal issues, I was forced to stop that. So I began brainstorming ideas for what I wanted to do next. All I knew was that I wanted to do something new and completely different from what I had done before.


The idea randomly came to me: I wanted to do a project that featured African-American subjects with natural hair. When I say “natural”, I mean hair that has not been straightened or significantly altered. I have always been a fan of natural hair and I felt as if it did not get enough exposure. It’s very beautiful to me and I felt that more people needed to be able to appreciate it. I also wanted the project to be done in black and white. I very rarely do any of my photo albums in B&W, so I thought this would be a unique opportunity to try something new. B&W photography evokes a feeling that is largely unexplainable, so I thought it would parallel nicely with the vision I was trying to create. “Essence” is defined as “attribute(s) that make an object or idea what it fundamentally is”, hence the name.


I knew what I wanted to do. The only question was where to start.


I did not know many people in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area. I had just moved here, so that was a major barrier to what I was trying to accomplish. I posted messages on Facebook and Twitter about the project I was trying to create. I honestly did not expect to get many responses. I got about 5 volunteers initially. Over that following week, that list of people grew from 5 to 30. Needless to say, I was both very surprised and very happy. All I needed to do was take the photos. Sounds simple enough, right?


Not so much.


I came up with this project around January. The weather was horrible. Most of the shoots would be in outside locations, so that put a hold on everything. I didn’t let that time idly pass by though. I came up with the different concepts that I would be going for with the photos, as well as how they would be presented. I did not just want to create a gallery of still shots. I decided that I would create a collage of photos for each person I shot.


After the weather became a little more consistent, I started getting in contact with people and setting up appointments to shoot. Some people canceled, some people rescheduled, and I couldn’t get in contact with many of the people that had initially seemed so eager. I didn’t let that deter me. I kept working towards my goal of getting this project off of the ground.


So far I’ve shot roughly 10 people (5 last weekend alone). It takes up a lot of my free time, but it is something I am very dedicated to. I’ve met some very interesting individuals and had some great experiences along the way. I’m eager to see what is around the corner.


I do not have a particular time that I want this project completed. I will work on it as long as it takes. I can see myself wrapping this up around the end of May however.


If you have seen any of the photos that I have posted on my tumblr (tfpg.tumblr.com), THANK YOU FOR LOOKING! I will periodically be posting various photos from the shoots I’ve done.


I’ve posted a few of the photos below. If you have any questions or would like to be a part of my project, click the “contact.” tab and get in contact with me! Be blessed.










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In an attempt to provide visitors of Silas Photography a glimpse into my mind regarding my thoughts and motivations behind photography, I have changed the primary format of my website to that of a blog. Whenever new photos are posted, a blog post will accompany them. Feel free to leave your thoughts on any posts that interest you. Check back periodically for updates. 

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