Sunday, October 29, 2006

An Easter to Remember

Bo Dereck had just made the movie Ten (or was it "10"?), braids with beads were suddenly the height of fashion, and none of the beauty shops catering to whites had a clue as to how to do it. My friend Frederick Meyer owned The Hair People, a salon about a block away from the Playboy Club, and at the time he was also president of the local hairdressers association. I did a lot of photography for him, photographing new hair styles and covering hair shows. It was a time when racial integration was finally making inroads into the business community and he'd introduced me to Mr. Ralph.

Ralph had a salon in a more upscale area of Miami's black section, and at one of the shows his stylists demonstrated braiding and plaiting techniques to a mixed race audience, but Ralph thought that perhaps some photos for his newspaper ads might draw some white customers if the photos showed a white person with Bo style beaded braids. I'd already done some other photography for Ralph and my daughter Elena had visited the salon a few times with me.

Elena was eight or nine at the time. We explained to her that it would take three or four hours sitting in the chair, and the braids were started out really tight and might hurt a bit in the beginning and be uncomfortable for the first few days. She was game. We set up a time and went to Ralph's. It was a few days before Easter. She didn't complain about the discomfort at all. All she could think about was how great she looked with her new hair style. Ralph was thrilled with the pictures.

I think what really made Elena happy was the reaction she got from her friends' mothers who were all jealous of the style, knew that it would likely cost over $100 to get their own hair done that way, and were too damned chicken to go to a black shop in the middle of the ghetto.

I shot this picture with her brother Jonathan in our back yard. Yup, I have some where he's posed nicely, but this shot, the priceless adoring expression on his face, beats any every-hair-in-place nicely posed photograph that I made that day. I love it!

Thanks to Todd Frederick's Photoshop skills for getting a semblance of believable color back from a badly faded quarter century old color print.


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