CMC 2021 – Celebrating The Power of Hair

This summer, Ideas Foundation set 13 students aged 13-19 a photography challenge, in partnership with UAL and Canon’s Young People Programme.

The four-day creative media camp (CMC) offered students hands-on experience in photography and idea development, to give them a better idea of the world of commercial photography and how to create an image in response to a client brief.

Canon Ambassadors Clive Booth and Eliška Sky gave the students a crash-course in photography, focusing on idea development, lighting, styling and editing.

“It was a really fun and engaging experience, working with a bunch of other creative students to create an awesome piece of work.”

Reannah DeSouza, CMC student.

The brief:

We asked students to create a series of images that celebrate the power of hair and bring to life one of the following UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development:

  • Goal 3: good health and wellbeing
  • Goal 4: quality education
  • Goal 5: gender equality
  • Goal 10: reduce inequality

The result:

Split into three groups, the students chose one global goal to incorporate into their images. Inspired by Pantene’s ‘My Hair Won’t Be Silenced’ campaign, all three groups chose to work on Goal 10: reducing inequality. The students focused on the racial inequalities that are present through hair discrimination and microaggressions such as hair touching.

With support from Canon and UAL representatives, the students created their campaigns in under four days. Some had never used a professional camera before, but after an intensive day of photography workshops, they created impactful images on the themes of microaggression, racial inequality and identity.

The final images:

Stealing Beauty

“Microaggression. This is a subtle display of usually unintentional discrimination against minorities. This has negatively affected black people for generations. One common form of microaggression is hair touching. Our image effectively demonstrates the effect this has. The model is the central focus with rose petals in her hair which indicates beauty and delicacy. The hands encircling her conveys how invasive touching is, which is emphasised by the uncomfortable look plastered on the model’s face.

Our message is that hair touching not only steals personal space, but it steals voices, dignity, and power, as often we can’t say “NO!” The hashtag #handsoff reclaims that power and the title “Stealing Beauty” perfectly aligns with our main objectives and themes.”

It's Just Hair

“Our group intended on representing and tackling inequality between the variety of different hair textures, colours, and styles within different races. For our prints we aimed at creating an editorial-style aesthetic, presenting images of different models with their own unique hair in different sections of the print. Our video aims to represent the mass population by displaying lots of different hairstyles, showing the contrast between them and emphasising that people should not be discriminated against based on their hair, because “It’s Just Hair”.”

My Hair My Crown

“With our identity as young British creatives who come from various backgrounds, we created an image of power & pride, in both what brings us together and what sets us apart. In this we wanted to make a statement: Our Hair is our Identity. Our Hair is Our Own. Our Hair is our Crown Jewels.

The silhouette theme was drawn from the Queen’s profile on British money and our hair represents our crown. We used props like combs and hair picks to demonstrate the time and dedication put into the appearance of different styles of hair, but also to enhance the respect and care we have for our hair. The silhouette of each model gives a strong presence, emulating that we are powerful individuals united by our background and the flag under which we are born.”

“Hair is part of identity and culture. I’m thrilled to see the students’ diverse approaches to this theme and the powerful outcome.”

CMC staff member.

The workshops not only gave students the opportunity to develop their technical photography skills, but also to consider the power that photography and film can have on an audience. Their images educate the audience on the ways in which hair is linked to identity and how racial discrimination can therefore manifest itself through microaggressions such as hair touching. The students’ work also celebrates different hair types and encourages the positive representation of all types of hair, in particular Afro hair.

This is the aim of Pantene's campaign to help end Afro hair discrimination, for which Ideas Foundation are a partner alongside Black Minds Matter, Project Embrace and World Afro Day. As part of the campaign, Ideas Foundation will design and deliver educational workshops on the topic of hair discrimination in various different schools across the country.

Discover Pantene's campaign to help end Afro hair discrimination here

Read about our recent workshop on The Power of Hair with Pantene and onepointfive here

Find out more about our work with Canon's Young People Programme here

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