“A Good Hair Day?” by Maya Delany

Challenge #1: “Life in our moment”: Take approximately 4-6 photos of different hours of the day, 8am – 11am – 1pm – 5pm – 11pm, so we can see the progression of time as we are living it. It doesn’t need to be on the same day but a ‘day’ is what is to be perceived. 
Artist’s Statement
For this Day in the Life project, I tried to draw inspiration from things that remain constant throughout the day. From here, I discovered my fascination with the expectations placed, typically on women, to always have the proper hairstyle for an event, no matter what time of day. Regardless of the activity, a hair tutorial can be found somewhere that instructs and deems what is appropriate. While I often struggle to attain such insisted variation throughout a single day, I thought this project being shot over several different days would provide an opportunity to somewhat show my range. I kept with a black and white theme in order to increase the contrast between my dark hair and other components of the composition. I feel that this set of photographs would be better completed with an increased number of hairstyles and times of the day, but I struggled greatly with being in front of the camera as well as behind.
See more of her work at: mayadelany.wordpress.com
8 11 13 16
Critiques: At the end of every artist’s piece, we will be posting the critiques that other members of The Photograph Collective have written in response. These critiques are meant to encourage, challenge, and ultimately better each other as photographers. In the same fashion, we also invite our readers to share their thoughts of projects in the comments section below.

Stephen: Your progression in these pictures were great and the range of shots captured those moments perfectly. The black and white, I agree, really shows off your image highlights – however I found it drained some of the mood possibly felt during each time. Saying that my favourite image was 8 – due to the sense of candidness portrayed.

Mary: First of all, major kudos for opting for self-portrait. Not easy from a technical or personal standpoint.

I’m really interested in your idea. It’s not something that I’ve really thought deeply about, though just through societal norms, I understand. But I’d never really thought about the idea of the appropriateness of a particular hair style in these different situations. After looking at your photos again after reading your artist statement, I wonder if there are ways to emphasize the hair in the photos. I didn’t gather from my initial look through the images that they were about hair.

Perhaps through cropping or elimination of other elements in the photos, you could draw more attention to hairstyles and focus on that and giving context clues to the type of situation. Perhaps the ‘yoga’ photo could be of the ‘working out ponytail’ from an angle that shows a yoga-mat-backpack-thing (that’s the technical term for it) but not much else. What about photos of hair-related things that elude to the different necessities for each?

I think that the different ‘hairstyles’ you chose were all really different and interesting. They each have their own ‘normal’ that’s so separate from the other ones. With some different emphasizing, these could really showcase that and start are real conversation about the main idea from your artist statement.

Jacquelyn: Kudos to approaching this project through self-portraits! Self-portraiture can be intimidating and difficult to take, so I applaud your unique take on this prompt.

I really enjoyed looking at your collection, as each photo captured a distinct moment in time. None of your photos seemed contrived or staged, which really allowed you to drive home your goal of showing your artistic range through different hairstyles.

In particular, I loved the black and white theme. As you stated, it really brings out the contrast between your hair and your face / surroundings. My favorite photo was the last (you putting on makeup); not only was it taken from an interesting vantage point, but it also was the epitome of “expectations placed on women.” My only suggestion would be for photo three (at work). I loved the placement of subject matter, but I wish that you were more focused, drawing on you, rather than blurring lines with the background. But all in all, fantastic work!

Jessica: I loved the timeline of your photos- there is a very clear passage of time represented. I found it very interesting and admirable that you were able to portray yourself in so many different ways. The photos were also genuine and spoke to me in different ways. I am captivated most by your third image for its expressiveness. There’s something about the look on your face that comes across to me as very real and candid-like. I also enjoy the fourth image for aesthetic reasons. I would say however, that I would not have realized that your hair was supposed to be your central theme without your artist’s statement.

Christine: Hey Maya, I love the concept of your hair being a constant across the variants of day to day life! Such an awesome idea! The viewer is really put in the position of being your companion, while simultaneously seeing you through your eyes, so to speak. Conceptually, this is super strong. The photographs are pretty intimate and sweet. The one with the computer really has a memory-like quality, I think due to the soft focus which I think was really successful in this image. I think if you were going to continue shooting the most successful shots are close-ups as they heighten the focus on your hair and features. The sleeping photo was the most successful in this regard, and I found the yoga photo to be the least successful in this series because the focus seemed to be on the activity instead. The sleeping photo is passive, and really allows the viewer to slow down and observe.

Technically, your highlights are a little clipped but the images are very consistent and work very well as a series. They visually, conceptually, and stylistically align and I really think they work stronger together – a hard thing to achieve with such a broad project prompt!

My absolute favorite image is of you putting on lipstick. Not only do you look incredibly stunning, but it really feels voyeuristic and almost like we’re your close friend or partner. Red turns black in black and white and having it “match” your hair really heightens the contrast. Super strong.

Can’t wait to see more work! :)

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