Regis and Kahran Bethencourt of CreativeSoul Photography use their skills as artists and photographers to uplift and celebrate unconventional beauty. Many of the striking storytelling portraits are centered around Black girls. One of the couple's latest series does just that while paying tribute to Madam C.J. Walker (1867–1919), an amazing individual who holds the honor of being the “first Black woman millionaire in America.”
Born in 1867 to parents who were enslaved, Walker created a homemade line of cosmetics and hair care products for Black women. As an entrepreneur, she marketed her products directly to them and then employed “beauty culturalists” to sell her hair care. She used her fortune for philanthropy and funded scholarships for women at the Tuskegee Institute and also donated her money to organizations like the NAACP.
Another part of her legacy lies in the Madam Walker Theatre Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, which was once part of her business’ headquarters. “We use our historic building as a venue for celebrating cultural diversity, rich heritage and cultural traditions,” the center explains, “primarily through art from the African-American perspective.”
It’s fitting, that when asked to collaborate with the Madam Walker Theatre Center, the Bethencourts chose to focus on the impact she had on Black hair care. Working with model Kendall Xenia Lowe and hair and makeup artist Keondra Renee, they created portraits of Black hair trends. The photo series starts with the year 1890 and then jumps to the 1950s and chronicles each decade through the 2000s. It ends with a final style that marks the future.
“We can't help but think that if she were still alive today,” the Bethencourts write, “she would be so proud of how she spearheaded an era of Black women becoming empowered and believing that they could aspire to wealth and economic prosperity.”
Check out the individual portraits below and then watch an Instagram reel to see them in a time-lapse video.
CreativeSoul Photography paid tribute to Madam C.J. Walker by showcasing Black hair trends starting with the 1890s.
The series was a collaboration with the Madam Walker Theatre Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Regis and Kahran Bethencourt, the couple behind CreativeSoul Photography, worked on this project with model Kendall Xenia Lowe and hair and makeup artist Keondra Renee.
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