Category Archives: The Coiffure Project

Emoni Natural Hair Fashion Portrait


Emoni The Coiffure Project

Emoni Natural Hair Fashion Portrait

This is a natural hair fashion portrait of Emoni Baraka. Hair and makeup by beauty expert Jamaya Moore.


I used the available light from a window and a circular reflector to capture this shot.
I used a  Nikon D700 full frame camera with a Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D lens.

I like to work with small teams. This means a great model, makeup, and maybe a hair stylist. Most of the time it is just the model and myself. They usually take care of their own makeup but I really prefer to work with models who use little to no makeup especially for the natural hair photos.

Rants and Tangents

This photo was taken at I time after I had given up on photography but Jamaya convinced me to dust my camera off and get into the studio. It felt good to be behind the camera again.

What made me put my camera down in the first place? Maybe it was arrogance. I did not think I was getting the “recognition” I thought I deserved. I have grown a lot since then. I know that I did not put in as much effort and hard work that I thought. I have also learned that hard work is good but smart work is way better.

I also left because I was tired of being broke all of the time. I didn’t like not knowing where my next check was coming from. I wanted to go back to computer programming because in my mind I thought it was more “stable”. Stability is a myth and there is no such thing as a stable job anymore.

The crazy part is, I made a lot of money as a photographer. The problem wasn’t making money the problem was keeping it. I spent like a mad man because I new that someone would call or email with a job. I would book 10K+ jobs and then be broke in a few months. I have repeated that cycle too many times in the and I had to change my thought process. I had to change my attitudes about money.

Im not sure what I spent that money on! I bought camera gear but that was only a minor dent in my income. I think it all went to things like dining out. I threw away a lot of cash. Fortunately, I have learned from these hard lessons.

The main thing I had to do was stop blaming the world. I had to look into myself and my habits. I had to change.

Jamya says that I never really quit I was just on sabbatical. She is right, I never really left. I just needed a break to figure some things out.

Emoni Natural Hair Fashion Portrait

Natural Hair photo

Ashley Pratt MiCA Coiffure Project Natural Hair

Ashley Pratt MiCA Coiffure Project Natural Hair

Ashley Pratt MiCA Coiffure Project Natural Hair

These are photos of Ashley Pratt in the first MiCA Art Building on the Maryland Institute College of Art campus for the Coiffure Project.


I shot this with a wide angle Nikon AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D. I did this because I wanted to capture the great architecture. The 20 mm is really good for two things. Shooting events and parties were space is limited or when your are photographing a person in a beautiful space.

With the 20mm you can focus on the model and still capture the environment with ease. Its important to frame your shot well because the 20mm is super wide and its really easy to get distractions things in the shot.

One mantra I follow in photography is focus and simplicity. This means I choose my subject, figure out what I want the image to say, then eliminate everything that does not help the message. Eliminate all distractions. This includes objects, people, distracting colors and shapes, and light sources. This can also mean eliminating less obvious things like too much white or blank space, objects that can throw off balance and harmony, and lines that point away from the subject. Maybe I will make a post about this one day.

The photos were captured using the ambient light of the building.

Rants, Tangents, and Ramblings

Ashely was attending MiCA at the time so we were able to get access to the building. I think it was my first time in there so I went nuts! The space is so beautiful.  Marble steps and walls and statues. All marble everything.

We used the natural sky light of the building.  The older buildings always have these great skylights. Why don’t they make buildings with skylights anymore? Forget electricity. Artificial lights cause depression. I have no science to back this up but humor me.

The architecture in the is building was so cool. I think her natural hair against the gold and marble was a cool contrast. These photos bring back memories because Ashley has since then cut all of her hair off. I hardly recognize her in these photos.

Change? Hair? Identity? Is our hair our identity? Is hair a metaphor for the human condition. We can try to change who we are but eventually the hairs of our personality will grow back. Or maybe it is that the new hair grows back healthier and stronger than before. Please forgive me for the bad poetry. Haha!

Ashley Pratt MiCA Coiffure Project Natural Hair

Photo featured on


Nikisha Urban Bush Babes Coiffure Project

Nikisha Urban Bush Babes Coiffure Project

NNikisha Urban Bush Babes Coiffure Project 2

Nikisha Urban Bush Babes Coiffure Project 3

Nikisha Urban Bush Babes Coiffure Project

This is a photo of Nikisha Riley one half of Urban Bush Babes. Urban bush babes is a natural hair, health, music, film, fashion, and art blog.


When I was photographing Nikesha I used a Nikkor 20mm 2.8D Wide angle lens. I went through a wide angle lens phase for a while. I really liked the how the final images looked. If you were not careful the images could easily become distorted due to the nature of wide angle lenses. But if you get the angle just right you could come up with some really cool shots.

Rants and Tangents

The Urban Bush Babes Blog was one of the early adopters of the coiffure project.
When I was trying to promote the project I reached out to many natural hair bloggers and was either rejected or I did not get a reply.

Cipriana the other half of the blog and Nikesha took a chance on writing about the project. Things changed for the Coiffure Project soon after. A waterfall of blogs started to write about the Coiffure Project after being posted on the Urban Bush Babes site.

When the Huffington Post picked up the story after seeing the Coiffure Project featured on the UBB site everthing started to blow up. Shot outs from the natural hair community and a deluge of email from young natural hair ladies that wanted to be photographed for the project. Also the blogs that never replied started emailing me. And the Coiffure Project started showing up on the blogs that flat out told me no.

I have booked long lasting photography clients because of the press coverage that started with the support of the UBB site.

I am very grateful for Nikesha and Cipriana. I still have yet to photograph Cipriana but maybe she will read this.

Nikisha Urban Bush Babes Coiffure Project


Zaruta Natural Hair Coiffure Project

Zaruta Natural Hair Coiffure Project 3

Zaruta Natural Hair Coiffure Project


Zaruta Natural Hair Coiffure Project

Here are some shots from the ongoing natural hair portrait series the Coiffure Project.
At the time Zaruta was a new model and she had the most hair I have ever seen.

Zaruta Natural Hair Coiffure Project


I shot these images with a wide angle Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D wide angle lens.
I was going through a Terry Richardson shooting style phase. I liked the slightly overexposed photos that he would shoot. They look so simple and real. I used cheap hot-shoe flash that was loaned to me by a friend. I photographed Zaruta on a plain white wall.

Zaruta was new to modeling so it was important for me to coach her through the process. It was necessary so that I could get the expressions that I wanted to achieve in the photos. I did this by instruction her to say her vowels while I was photographing her. A, E, I, O, U. The whole shoot was full of her saying the vowels and it really helped.

Free Thought, Rants, and Tangents

This was a fun shoot. A big part of learning how to create great photos is trying to replicate your idols. It is important to add something a little extra from yourself so that you are not completely ripping off someone else’s style. For me it was adding girls of color with lots of hair as apposed to super models and celebrities.

I learned a lot from this shoot and I was able to try out the A, E, I, O, U technique that I had read somewhere in the past. This is why its super important to keep learning from all places. You never know what tricks you can learn that me be applicable to your creative process.

Zaruta Natural Hair The Coiffure Project

Yoko Serious Natural Hair Portrait The Coiffure Project

Natural Hair Portrait Yoko Ashley Henderson

Natural Hair Portrait Yoko Ashley Henderson The Coiffure Project Glenford Nuñez

Natural Hair Portrait Yoko Ashley Henderson

This was one of the first natural hair portraits for the Coiffure Project. The idea was still new and exciting.

I met Yoko at an art exhibit opening at the Reginald F. Lewis museum. She stood out from the crowd and I was super nervous to talk to her. Fortunately Courtney (the best studio assistant ever) was with me. I pleaded with Courtney to talk to Yoko and give her my business card.

Photographers have bad reputations so first encounters with women are less intimidating when I have a young lady with me. If I approach someone alone and say “Hello I am a photographer” you can see the color leave from their face. This does not happen as much when I have a young lady with me. Ive gotten a lot better about approaching people since then.

This was my fist time working with Yoko and we were both super nervous. She later became my muse. Yoko was always available when I wanted to try new lighting techniques.

The Process

This was shot with a beauty dish and a hot shoe flash unit against a white wall. The flash was a cheap brand loaned to me by my good friend Travis Johnson of Digi Artbox. I think he mentioned that the flash unit had exploded at one point. This meant that flash unit had the potential to cause a fire but it didn’t really matter to me because I wanted to get the “Terry Richardson” lighting effect. As you can see the photo turned into something completely different.

I shot this with a Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D but it was paired with a cropped sensor Nikon D7000. Using a full frame lens with a cropped sensor body creates a magnification effect. This means that my 20mm was more like a 35mm lens. Im not sure about the math but you can find explanations online. Currently I use a D700 which is a full frame sensor.

Ramblings, Rants, Tangents, and Free thought

I was happy with the final result. I really like this image because of Yokos body language and facial expressions. I also like the pinky-peachy color of the image. All credit goes to Yoko for being such a great subject. Shooting with her really set the tone for future shoots done for the Coiffure Project. I worked with Yoko many times after our first shoot. Natural Hair Portrait Yoko Ashley Henderson

An award winning commercial photographer on the East Coast.