Photographer:Sandro Miller
Continent: North America
Country: United States
Project Title: Crowns, My Hair My Soul My Freedom
Project Continent: North America
Project Country: United States
Nominated By: Frank Meo
Seconded By: Selaru Ovidiu,

Crowns, My Hair My Soul My Freedom is a celebration of the diversity, artistry, and power of black women’s hair. This project is about highlighting the many ways in which black women around the world embrace their freedom of choice and express their creativity through their hair, no matter the style or texture, whether they wear braids, locs, weaves, or whether they wear it natural or straightened. With each portrait, I seek to recognize and honor black women’s power and beauty while celebrating blackness and black lives.

Black women haven’t always enjoyed the freedom to wear their hair as they please. Generally in America, African Americans have been subjected to centuries of racial hatred and oppression in the United States. And when it comes to hair—historically and to this day—black women have been policed and suppressed in numerous ways, including:

*The dehumanizing practice of shaving African women’s hair during slavery, thus erasing signifiers of culture and identity.
*A 1786 Louisiana law requiring black women—both enslaved and free—to cover their hair in public.
*The expectation that black women conform to European standards of beauty by straightening their hair.
*Black girls being sent home from school in 2017, due to school policies that deems their braids “inappropriate.”
*Black women losing or being denied jobs because their natural hair is too “unprofessional” for today’s corporate environment.

For reasons, such as these, I feel this project is necessary.
I asked each woman who sat for this project to share her personal “hair story” with me. In this project each woman’s skin was depicted with the same black tone to emphasize the beauty of blackness, and serve as an equalizer to remove the potential for prejudicial skin color biases, and make hair the focal point. Additionally, my selection of decorative backgrounds was inspired by and includes African tapestries acquired in Africa, where I completed this project in Johannesburg and Dakar, Senegal. Though some sitters received striking black backgrounds, I selected the colorful and vibrant patterns for each person based on their individuality and the shapes and colors in their hair.

It has been my mission, for the past forty years, to travel the world photographing people from every culture and walk of life, capturing their beauty and their stories.


Amber - United States


Jewell - United States


Stacey - United States


Lutece - United States


Nina - Dakar Senegal


Amontance - Dakar Senegal


Nzinga - Dakar Senegal


Koketso - Johannesburg South Africa


Zoya - Johannesburg South Africa


Khanya - Johannesburg South Africa