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This assignment ran from Aug 15 to Sep 5, 2016.

As a child, I was told that my hair was my crown. My thick, kinky Afro stood at attention, and I realized that my hair was not only a crown, but also a representation of my blackness, heritage, and style. Unlike height or skin color, your hair is versatile with texture, colors, and motion. Each day, month, and year, men and women make decisions about their hair. We change its length often and its style daily. These choices are often personal and can symbolize our culture or our admiration for another.

So, what does your hair mean to you? What does it represent in your culture and community? Do you braid it or curl it? Do you dye it fun colors or just dye away the gray? Do you love your gray? Have you ever lost your hair? How did that affect you? How do others see your hair? Are you proud of your hair? The questions could continue on and on. Your photos could be about your hair, or that of someone you know, or of anyone you meet. Hair is a strong outward expression of ourselves, but can also be very personal. Let's get this assignment going and see where it takes us.

And for this assignment, we will focus only on the hair that grows from our heads! Over the next few weeks, my co-editor Marie McGrory and I will be sharing our individual experiences and we look forward to seeing yours too.

Curated by:

Endia Beal
Artist, Educator and Activist

Marie McGrory
Producer, Nat Geo Travel
Assignment Status
  • Open

    Everyone’s welcome to contribute their best shot to open assignments. Learn more.
  • Closed

    Completed assignments—with our favorite photos included—will be published online. Learn more.
  • Published

    Once the submission period is over, we'll review all contributions and select our favorite images to be included in the story. Learn more.
Published Sep 16, 2016.
Thank you for your contributions!

Facebook Live

Posted sep 2, 2016

Photographer Endia Beal films from Sola Salons in Winston-Salem, North Carolina as she speaks with stylists about what hair means to them. Endia is co-editing the Your Shot assignment "Hair" which asks photographers to submit images of what hair represents to them culturally and personally.

Also we have added a 4th submission to this assignment, so get those last submissions ready.

Reinvent the Way You View Your Hair

Posted aug 29, 2016

Hair is an integral part of our lives. It can frame our face or tell a story about our culture. It has motion, patterns, shapes, and color. I challenge you to reinvent the way you view your hair or your friends’ hair and share your photographs. Below I provided some photos from my series “Can I Touch It?” and links to a few photographers who are reinventing the way the world views hair. Marie and I can’t wait to see your submissions!

Shani Crowe – Black Women and Braids: Images Align Their History

Awol Erizku – Afropunk Hair Portraits

Nontsikelelo Mutiti – Ruka (to braid/to knit/to weave) Explores the African Hair Braiding Salon

- Endia Beal

Telling A Story

Posted aug 29, 2016

We are seeing many fun images of hair—windblown hair, long hair flowing in golden light, barbershops—but don't forget to tell the story. How do you show a portrait that is not redundant? How do you represent the story of what this person's hair means to them? Don't forget to ask questions, and tell us a story in your caption.

Why this person, this image, this hairstyle, and not one of the dozens or hundreds of others you may have passed by this week? Tell us a story; show us something different. I can't wait to see what this next week brings!

-Marie McGrory


Posted aug 22, 2016

I am amazed by the different approaches you all are taking with this assignment. The photographs are innovative and personal. The written statements that accompany the photographs add another layer to the storyline. I also love the community support and dialogue in the discussion section. Below I provided a few links and photographs from emerging photographers who inspire me. I hope these photographers fuel your imagination and I look forward to seeing your next submissions!

Genevieve Gaignard

Davion Alston (The Pencil Test)

Kathya Landeros

–– Endia Beal

Endia Beal

Endia Beal

Artist, Educator and Activist
Endia Beal is a North Carolina based artist, educator and activist, who is internationally known for her photographic narratives and video testimonies that examine the personal, yet contemporary stories of minority women working within the corporate space. Beal currently serves as the Director of Diggs Gallery and Assistant Professor of Art at Winston-Salem State University. As a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008, Beal earned a dual bachelor’s degree in Art History and Studio Art. During her undergraduate studies, she attended the Studio Art Center International in Florence, Italy focusing on High Renaissance Art History and the romance languages of the Italian culture. Following graduation, Beal was one of four women nationally selected to participate in ArtTable, a program designed to promote women in the visual arts. Representing the Washington, D.C. district, she assisted in the curation of the Andy Warhol Exhibit at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of George Washington University. Beal used this experience as a platform to advocate for minority opportunities within the arts. She was instrumental in creating marketing campaigns that redefined the way minority communities interact with art. Her work experience includes, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology, and The New York Times Magazine. In 2013, Beal graduated from Yale School of Art, with a Master of Fine Arts in Photography. While attending Yale, she created “Can I Touch It?” a body of work that explores the relationship of black women within the corporate space. Her work was fully developed during the artist-in-residence program at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. Beal aligns herself with artists such as Carrie Mae Weems and Lorna Simpson, who use stories as the vehicle to question conformity and gender norms. Beal is featured in several online editorials including The New York Times, NBC, BET, the Huffington Post, Slate, and the National Geographic. She also appeared in Essence Magazine, Marie Claire Magazine South Africa and Newsweek Japan. Her work was exhibited in several institutions such as the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit, Michigan, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture based in Charlotte, NC, the Aperture Foundation of New York, and the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute.

Marie McGrory

Marie McGrory

Producer, Nat Geo Travel
Marie McGrory is a Producer with National Geographic Travel. She believes photography can help us find the moments, feelings, and stories that transcend cultural boundaries.