Atlanta-based couple photographers want more girls to see themselves as regal. Using their “CreativeSoul” studio, they teamed up with hairstylist LaChanda Gatson to create a series of photos of Disney Princesses who are all young Black girls.
Kahran Bethencourt and her husband Regis, who run CreativeSoul told HuffPost Canada that the project is “aimed at redefining and re-imagining the traditional princess with their own dash of style, culture and swag”.
CreativeSoul Photography said it believes that everyone deserves to truly be seen. “We go beyond just capturing beautiful snapshots. We’re more than just photographers. We are artists and trusted business partners obsessed with unique, visual storytelling and capturing unconventional beauty”.
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There’s only one official Black Disney princess: Tiana from “The Princess and the Frog” in 2009. The goal, according to Bethencourt, is to inspire more girls around the world to start seeing themselves as regal princesses.
The spellbinding series features 14 magical, regal black girls each of whom embodies a Disney princess. The Bethencourts re-imagined the world of aesthetic of characters like Snow White, Ariel, Rapunzel, Nala, Elsa, Jasmine and more.
Compiled into a book titled, GLORY: Magical Visions of Black Beauty, the young black girls stunningly portrayed these characters with such grace and beauty that shows that black magic knows no bounds.
According to Gatson, who developed the stories with the Bethencourts, young black girls often grow up without seeing anyone who looks like them in the stories they consume. “I loved watching and reading fairy tales and fantasy,” she said. “I would often reimagine these characters more relatable to me and my culture.”
For this series, she said she chose the characters from the stories she loved while growing up. “I reimagined them as black urban royalty”.
The princesses in the series “didn’t include any damsels in distress,” Gatson said. “These royals possess the healing powers of their ancestral lineage”. “It is always my mission to always empower, inspire, encourage, and uplift my community, my people, and most importantly my future. Those Black girls are me.”
After posting the black Disney Princesses on Facebook, the series immediately went viral with many comments coming from parents of young Black daughters.
“My 4-year old-daughter loves all the Disney princesses. A couple months ago she told me she wanted to be a white princess,” one user wrote. “I suggested Tiana but she said no. But she has looked at all the pictures in this post about 3 times all the way through. Ooing and aaahing the whole time.”
“I jus wanna say what a light you two amazing artists have been in this world! You create such magical stunning visual art, showcasing what natural beauty is! Color is beautiful! Culture is beautiful! I am so happy young people have y’all as a beacon to follow, help them to learn they are beautiful jus as they are! And hold their heads high with pride! Thank you” another Facebook user commented.
The couple said they connected because of their passion for preserving precious moments. “We fell head over heels in love with one another, and in the process created something beautiful: CreativeSoul Photography”.
For more than 10 years, they have worked with hundreds of children, families and brands, specializing in lifestyle photography and authentic visual storytelling. Their holistic approach to capturing one-of-a-kind moments has allowed their work to be featured on Teen Vogue, CNN, Glamour magazine, Vogue Italia, Black Enterprise, The Real daytime talk show, BBC News, the OWN network and more.