A photographer told these black girls and boys to be themselves. These are the photos she took.

When Emily Stein moved into a new neighborhood in London, she saw beauty and creativity the likes of which she'd never seen before.

It was the beauty of the stunning, distinctive hairstyles of children from first and second generation West Indian and African families that caught her eye.

A portrait photographer, Stein was instantly drawn to the children and decided to photograph them for "Hairdo," her latest photo series.


Stein didn't pose or direct the children; she wanted them to feel as comfortable as possible and be themselves.

"I really wanted the images to feel like they were an expression of the children featured, so I encouraged them to do as they wished in front of the lens," she told Upworthy.

The kids took Stein up on her challenge, and it led to these outstanding photos:

All photos by Emily Stein, used with permission.

Bantu knots, fades, mohawks, cornrows, and box braids are highlighted in the carefree collection.

Their natural hairstyles are as playful, beautiful, and imaginative as the kids themselves.

Finding inspiration was easy. Finding kids to photograph required a little more legwork, quite literally.

Stein and her photography partner Celia West raced around London scouting charismatic kids with equally captivating hairstyles and explaining the project to their parents. The pair carried rolls of bright, candy-colored paper with them and taped up makeshift backgrounds to achieve 18 perfect, joy-filled shots.


This isn't Stein's first time working with young people. Children and the young at heart are some of her favorite subjects.

Her previous series "Girls Camp" captured girls at a sleep-away camp. And another, titled "Mississippi's Finest," explored a slice of life in the heart of the American South. Whether at home in London or abroad, Stein enjoys capturing kids in their natural state.

"There is an openness and honesty in teenagers and kids which I think draws me to them," she said.

The "Hairdo" series has only been out a few weeks, but it's already garnering lots of positive attention.

Stein's work was featured in the British Journal of Photography and has attracted attention from all around the world.

She's also turning the project into a small book. Next week, she's hosting an exhibition in London. Though the stars of the show won't be able to attend (the event is held a little past their bedtime), she's excited to showcase the images in a larger format.

"There is something in [the large prints] that makes the images and the children's presence more powerful," she said.

Here's to these fantastic, beautiful kids.

And to photographer Emily Stein for celebrating and sharing their delightful, playful personalities with the world.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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Norton

This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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