Over his lifetime, acclaimed Nigerian photographer, J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, photographed thousands of hairstyles worn by Nigerian and African women. Today, these photographs have been seen around the world and continue to inspire stylists, hairdressers and photographers alike.
To pay homage to J.D. Okhai's work and to celebrate the hairstyles of Nigerian women, photographer Medina Dugger, created the Chroma series (Chroma: An Ode to J.D. Okhai Ojeikere) which she describes as "an on-going series which celebrates women’s hairstyles in Lagos, Nigeria through a fanciful, contemporary lens".
Nigerian women, like most black women, embrace using colourful wool and hair extensions as a form of creative expression and protective styling. Inspired by these hair colour trends, Medina decided to celebrate traditional and contemporary African braiding methods.
For many Nigerian women these unique African braiding methods are part of our culture: From childhood we braided our hair for school, and during adulthood we saw hair braiding as a method of expression, and also a method of creatively opposing the Eurocentric hair/beauty standards we are often force-fed.
In the text accompanying the Chroma images, Medina reminded me of some of the historical influences behind J.D. Okhai's photography, stating:
"J.D. Okhai began photographing hairstyles in black and white, following the re-emergence of traditional hairstyles which became popular again following Nigeria’s independence. Prior to de-colonization, wigs and hair straightening had become a commonplace practice, especially in urban areas of the country. "
Just like the era after independence, when Nigerian women re-embraced afros and traditional African hair weaving methods etc, this last decade has seen another wave of women embracing natural hair and more contemporary African braiding styles. In other words, this series couldn't have come at a better time!
To learn more about Medina Dugger's work head to her website.
Hair designs by: Ijeoma Christopher
Styling by: Medina Dugger
Makeup by: Timibra David Subor