JaKayla and Layla are the daughters of very dear friends from our days in the Pacific Northwest. Our friend had been wanting to do an AfroArt style session for years, so we were so happy to finally meet her girls and make it happen. The girls had been learning Mandarin from a very young age and recently took their first trip to China. They wanted to incorporate Chinese culture into their AfroArt session. The girls both enjoyed their time on set and even came up with a few ideas of their own by the end of the shoot. Check out our interview with Layla and JaKayla below.
What challenges did you encounter when learning the Chinese language?
JaKayla: “I had a problem with the tones, but got better in 3rd grade.”
Layla: “I struggled with the tone and got better half way through 3rd grade.”
What is your favourite element of the Chinese culture?
JaKayla:”I ‘loves the seafood on a stick, such as squid. I first tried it at a street market in Tianjin, China.”
Layla: “My favourite elements are the legends like Confucius” Confucius was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician and philosopher. His teachings, preserved in the Analects, focused on creating ethical models of family and public interaction and setting educational standards.
What was your most enjoyable part of the Chinese culture?
JaKayla: “I love the Chinese art in the temples. We visited the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Lama Temple.”
Layla: “Visiting the Great Wall of China. It was very long and you get a great workout.”
How do you feel embracing your natural hair, did you feel empowered?
JaKayla: “People always comment that they have to pay to get hair like mine and I don’t. *said with a big smile* I don’t like to get my hair combed, so my favorite style is in one ponytail, pulled back out of my face, and flowy.”
Layla: “I love the different shades of my hair color and that I look different from everyone else.”
How was your experience doing a professional photo shoot?
JaKayla: “My favorite part of the photo shoot was coming up with ideas for the photos (like using the fan over my face)”
Layla: “It was awesome. I enjoyed having my hair down, putting on earrings, and getting dressed up. I would like to model for fun.”
Despite not having much experience in a professional modelling environment both girls came out of their shells and allowed us to create stunning images which evoked the Chinese culture as well as their own personalities. The images turned out amazing and we can’t wait to see them up on the walls of their home.
So for those of you wondering where in the world we are now, we are currently wrapping up our week long tour of Kenya for our upcoming AfroArt book. I must admit, this book is turning out to be pretty epic and we cannot WAIT to see it all together. We kicked things off in Europe and are now taking it to the motherland with a visit to Kenya, South Africa and Ghana. We were very lucky during our Kenya stay to have been hosted by an amazing travel agency, Bountiful Safaris. If you’re one of those millennial do-it-yourself travelers like me you’re probably used to the AirBNB/Uber/Taxi life when traveling. I typically find that travel agencies are a bit too cumbersome, pricey and not flexible enough for our needs. So I was thrilled to find that we were able to get amazing travel deals and the flexibility we needed through Bountiful Safaris. Their staff is amazing and were so accommodating to our needs. Here’s a quick recap of our Kenya tour…
After a (long) 20 hour flight, we arrived late in the evening and made a quick late night pizza run. Our visit was in Kenya’s winter so the weather was typically in the low 70s each day and low 60s in the evening. Coming from the south, this weather was great for us, but our Kenyan friends considered this blizzard weather! ha! Our friends were also not amused by our pizza choice, but it was actually great to us, lol! What more can you expect from a midnight pizza run? 🙂
We arrived at our hotel, the Azure Towers and were thrilled by our accommodations. The hotel had a nice restaurant, a free full buffet breakfast, lounge area, pool and more. We found that it had everything we needed and more (including little details like a universal outlet which made life a little easier.
Before even visiting Kenya, I knew that my very first stop needed to be one of the Maasai markets. Saying I was in heaven would be an understatement! There were so many amazing jewelry pieces, clothing and crafts that I had to restrain myself to not take everything there.
The next day we met with our amazing team here in Kenya to get ready for our big production for our AfroArt book. We can’t give away too many details but all I can say is that the shoot was indeed epic.
Who else gets to hang out with cows for their day job? 🙂
After the pressure of our main shoot was over, we decided to do a little safari exploration and shoot to see the other side of Kenya. Our little models were so happy to see the animals and for the safari tour. Do you guys remember Maya from our AfroArt series? The last time we photographed her, she was visiting LA but this time we got to photograph her in her own home town along with her BFF Hazel.
Bountiful Safaris arranged for a driver to pick us up and take us around to Nairobi National Park and the Giraffe Center in Nairobi. He was very knowledgeable and patient enough to allow us to shoot along the way.
I will admit, I’m usually not a safari type of girl, but after doing one I can’t go back to seeing animals “behind bars” at the zoo. Seeing them in their natural environment is SO much more exciting and amazing.
Afterwards, the girls literally twirled around Kenya in their beautiful custom made dresses by Alexandria Olivia. These two were showstoppers everywhere we went.
Our very first trip to Kenya was everything we had hoped and more. We are already trying to figure out our return plans so that we can visit again soon. For my friends in the US – yes, Kenya=Wakanda. 😉
This past weekend we had a fabulous time in NYC. We were there for what was mostly a personal visit with my niece but took the opportunity to get in a few shoots while we were there. Several clients signed up for our popular AfroArt sessions and were able to experience the fun first hand. This time we fused two different themes (pop art and colorful tribal) into one fun day of creative goodness. See some of our favorites below. These CreativeSoul kids are seriously stying and profiling! Love them!
They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so what better than a Diamond themed editorial? Nothing! Khynija and her mom traveled all the way from Florida for her big moment in the spotlight. They wanted something unique for this teen’s portfolio that would stand out from the crowd. We decided on a diamond theme because of it’s many meanings – we love the fact that they take time to grow and develop until they become a beautiful diamond loved by many. We felt that this was the perfect theme for Khynija as she develops into womanhood. We are in LOVE w/the images captured during her session. Check them out below.
Doodle-bombing anyone?! We’ve always loved the style of doodle-bombing where you overlay doodles on an existing image. Jada is a fabulous little model out of NY who wanted some creative style images to add to her portfolio. We came up with a quirky doodle-bomb theme and were thrilled with the results. See more over on the Junior Style London blog here.
- Hair/Makeup: Maraz
- Styling: Kiki Tillman
- Clothes: Caroline Bosmans via Shan & Toad
- Bandana Choker: Rich Girl Candy
- Model: Jada
It’s been almost 2 years since we’ve been back to London and we were SO excited to return again. As we did in 2016, London was the first stop on our international AfroArt tour. We were able to capture so many fantastic images for the amazing little models there. Check out a few of our favorite images below.
- Hair/Makeup: Angela Plummer & Lachanda Gatson
- Hair Accessories: Nubian Decor
- Gold Crown: Uniquely Wired
- Jewelry: Ekocreashunz
- Clothes: Issosy Children
We are in love with the creations by our creative friend Nikki Cade of Nikki Cade Studio in Dallas, TX. Her whimsy, colorful art pieces are a color lovers dream. We were totally inspired by this floral backdrop created for us, so we decided to do a complete floral fantasy theme with nothing but florals everywhere! So much fun playing around with this. See more from our Floral Fantasy editorial below.
- Backdrop: Nikki Cade Studio
- Hair/Makeup: Maraz
- Jewelry: UniquelyWired
- Models: Lala, Cece, Gabby, Malia
READY TO / Work
Wow, when we first started this little project called the “AfroArt” series we never thought it would take off the way that it has. We started this project to showcase the beauty and versatility of afro hair. We traveled to various states in the US to photograph this series featuring unique natural hairstyles – each shoot with a different theme.
We feel that it is so important for kids of color to be able to see positive images that look like them in the media. Unfortunately the lack of diversity often plays into the stereotypes that they are not “good enough” and often forces kids to have low self-esteem. We try to combat these stereotypes in our photography by showing diverse imagery of kids who love the skin they’re in, their own natural curls and their culture. Stories like this are important to show so that we can shatter the current standards of beauty.
We hope that viewers will see the beauty and versatility of afro hair and we hope that girls around the world will be inspired to love their unique differences and beauty within. Check out some highlights from our AfroArt series below.
*UPDATE* Many have asked about the coffee table book, prints and more from this series. We are still finalizing this series so the coffee table book is still a work in progress. Feel free to join our mailing list here if you’d like to be updated when it is available. Also, we’ve launched our 2018 AfroArt calendar and prints in our online shop.