Monday, December 31, 2012

1 Year of Dreadlocks

 I wanted to dedicate a large post to my dreadlocks. They have been such a journey and a huge part of 2012 for me. I'm going to share the story of how they came to be and then a few beautiful lessons I learned.

A year ago I made a pretty drastic hair change. Since my sophomore year in college, I'd experimented with different fun colors in my hair (nothing too crazy though since my school allowed only "natural" blues or purples, etc.) but was wanting to try something different. In April 2011 I remember thinking how much fun dreadlocks would be. But seeing as I was getting married in June, I decided to have a more classic wedding hairstyle. Then that fall I noticed my friend Lauren was pinning all these pictures of the most gorgeous dreadlocks. My decision was instantly made. I did consult with my husband, who backed me up all the way.

Lauren and I started researching dreads and how to do them, how to care for them, what products to use, and of course enjoyed tons of inspirational photos. We found a salon in Asheville that specialized in creating dreadlocks, but when we visited for a consultation, it was quite a letdown. First, the lady said she'd be doing a dreadperm—not creating them by hand, but by the use of chemicals. Also, she said she'd have to add extensions in Lauren's hair, because it was thinner, and that my hair would have to grow out so the shorter layers were a lot longer. Plus it would cost an arm and a leg. So we took a different route—why not do it ourselves?

Youtube! There are so many different ways to make dreadlocks, the top 3 being neglect, backcombing, and twist and rip. Neglect was out because basically that means you just don't ever touch your hair and a few years down, you'll have natural dreads. Backcombing makes you lose a LOT of length. Twist and rip seemed the way to go. Lauren found this video and we used it to teach us:

Neither of us could wait to get started, so on our own we each made about 15 on ourselves (with a little husband help). Then, armed with crochet hooks, dread aloe tightening gel, fun beads, embroidery thread, and Netflix, we got together and only a few hours later, we were both dreadheads. I had 37 dreadies and Lauren ended up with 42. We chose to keep our bangs normal for aesthetic reasons. =)

Upkeep at first was difficult learning and we worked on each other's or had our husbands or my sister work on them. For the first few months we used aloe tightening gel and some special teas to help the dreads mat and tighten up, along with using a crochet hook to pull in loose hairs. One of the cool things about dreads is that you don't lose the average 127 hairs daily that most people do—they just get stuck all up in your dreads. Which is how they thicken up and gain weight and keep matting up more and more. After about 3-4 months, the tightening gel was no longer needed and all we use now is the crochet hook. And we've learned to do our own quite easily. One thing people ask about a lot is how we clean our dreads. You have to find a non-residue shampoo, and just wash as needed. At the beginning, I still washed my hair several times a week, and as my scalp and hair got used to it, I started washing them less (and yes, I still wash them on a regular basis). =) Dreads are NOT dirty—yes there are always exceptions, but that is usually not the case.

Dreads are not perfect every day. The first few months were pretty difficult. Dreads are a huge commitment. You have to be in it for the long haul. But steadily, I noticed differences in them and love them more every month. I wake up in the morning and just go. No more fixing my hair (unless it's to throw it up into a ponytail). No more mousse, gel, hair dryer, brush, hairspray, or straightener.  Just shampoo. And the occasional date with a crochet hook. Now they're matting at the roots as they grow and have a lot more weight and substance to them. I love my hair. This was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I'm so thankful for my dread sister, Lauren, and for this journey we've embarked on together.

A few special lessons I've learned:
1. There is beauty in imperfection.
2. Growth takes time and dedication.
3. Patience pays off.
4. Journeys not only have bumps in the road, but also scenic overlooks.
5. The little things in life can be the most fun and the most beautiful things.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Radford Family

 This adorable family was super fun to photograph. Family shoots are the best when they're (literally) in your own backyard. The family is more comfortable and if (let's just say when) there are meltdowns, there's a place nearby to hang til everyone calms down. Let me know if you're interested in having me take some great shots of your family in their element!