“Natural beauty is boundless, and now it is a source of endless artistic inspiration and wonder.”
The quote on the Web site of photographer Glenford Nunez is the perfect description for his natural hair showcase “The Coiffure Project.” The 25-year-old has posted online images of women showcasing their crowning glory in its natural state, striking various poses and giving gazes varying from smoldering to carefree.
A native of Baltimore, Nunez didn’t pick up his first camera until two years ago and hasn’t received any formal training. He focused on shooting fashion photography and portraits, but finding a muse was rough.
“Back then, nobody wanted to let me take their picture. I used to beg people to let me take their picture, but I never got around to it,” he says.
Before he began pursuing photography full time in April, Nunez worked as a graphic designer and Web developer. Academic stints at various schools didn’t really benefit him, since the proof of his skill was more visual than anything, Nunez says.
“The way I was taught, you go to college to get a good job — I already had a good job.”
He began landing steady fashion projects here and there, but the turning point came when he received an opportunity to take photos for a magazine at New York Fashion Week last fall. After being “caught up in the glitz and glam,” Nunez knew there was no turning back. “That atmosphere just said, ‘I gotta get out of here, this is not what I want to do — I want to become a photographer,’ ” he said.
Nunez was inspired to begin The Coiffure Project after going over a few shots taken of his assistant. “Because she’s my assistant, she’s always around, so I’m always taking pictures of her,” he says. Her hair, coupled with the amount of photos, caught his eye, and “it was like an Aha! moment,” he says.
Having found his inspiration, he set out to work. “I’m just always looking for something unique and different, that has a different kind of style to it. If somebody’s look is unique, then I would want to shoot them.”
The first photos were taken in February, and the project has continue to pick up speed. “We live in a world of hyper-perfection — a lot of Photoshop, a lot of extra,” he says. “I just want people to be able to focus on natural beauty.”
A Kickstarter campaign for the project launched June 25 in anticipation of the exhibit opening night on Sept. 14 at Silo Point in Baltimore. Nunez is aiming to raise $20,000 within the next month. Buying incentives begin at $4. The donations will be allocated toward the purchase of a large format printer for Nunez to copy his images, ink, paper and other costs. “All of the money is going into opening night,” Nunez says.
“My e-mail has been blowing up with different people — really, really beautiful people, but they don’t necessarily inspire me,” he says of choosing his next subject. “It’s more of a feeling than anything else — it’s not even a thought process. I’ll just see somebody, and it will click with me and I’ll be like, ‘Okay, I want to take a picture of this person.’ ”
The feedback from the project has been overwhelming.
“Somebody sent me an e-mail from Dubai . . . Brazil. People from the Netherlands have been blogging about The Coiffure Project. It’s just been a really good experience.”
Nunez believes he is bringing a different visual perspective to hair that hasn’t been chemically relaxed. “I couldn’t find any good photographs of women with natural hair,” he says. “You have books on women with locs and different types of hair, but never just natural hair. I just want [viewers] to see good photography of women with natural hair.”
For his next muse, Nunez is thinking about going a little below the surface. “I think one of my next projects is going to be a no-makeup kind of project.” He’s all about pushing the envelope, though. “I want to do something that makes people uncomfortable. I want to make stuff that’s gonna make people . . . think twice.”