Ten years ago, Atlanta-based photographers Kahran and Regis Bethencourt of CreativeSoul Photography noticed a lack of diversity in the industry, and they seized the opportunity to represent and celebrate the myriad styles and stories of African heritage. In their ongoing AfroArt series, the Bethencourts embrace the versatility of Black hair by sweeping it into towering updos and beaded braids. Young models are bedecked in sequins, ruffles, and shells that are often paired with elaborate garments made of vibrant Dutch wax fabric.
As the series evolved, CreativeSoul dug deeper into fairytales and folklore—some traditional and some of their own imagining—inspiring a collaboration with Disney for a collection of dolls that reframes classic princesses as African royalty. Replete with gowns made of brightly patterned textiles, iconic characters like Snow White and Cinderella wear colorful bows in their long braids and afros.
Elaborate hairstyles, embellished costumes, and bold backgrounds characterize CreativeSoul’s portraits. “When it comes to sourcing outfits and generating ideas for each image, we work closely with parents and kids themselves in the creative decision-making,” they tell Colossal. “We typically ask each child, if they could have the shoot of their dreams, what would it be? We believe in giving them a voice and allowing their personalities to shine through in the final results.” From the initial idea, they brainstorm themes and source inspiration from literature, culture, and the children’s individual interests.
The Bethencourts also just released Crowned, published by St. Martins Press, as a followup to their first title Glory in 2020. The books are “a celebration of black beauty, featuring stunning imagery that showcases the diversity and uniqueness of black children,” the pair says, sharing that “we aim to inspire young readers and instill in them a sense of pride and self-love.”
Upcoming projects include two new books, one celebrating Black history and another focusing on Christmas. You can snag a copy of Crowned on Bookshop, and find more on CreativeSoul’s website and Instagram.
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