Khayla, a photographer and, currently, the facilitating social media intern for The Beautiful Project, was recently able to reflect on her time photographing Naa Kordei. Please take a moment to read her thoughts as she shares with us how getting “the winning shot,” wasn’t the jewel she walked away with after spending time with some beautiful little girls.
When I first spoke to Naa Kordei about the BGT exhibit, I asked her to identify one friend that she can trust for me to interview. Her eyes immediately lit up as she exclaimed, “Alyssa!! Interview Alyssa!” Naa Kordei and Alyssa have been best friends since they met on the playground five years ago in 1st grade. Since then, they’ve been inseparable, and are often mistaken as sisters. I knew it was only right to invite Alyssa to the photo shoot.
At the start of the shoot, I could sense the girls’ excitement and nerves. Initially, I had a detailed list of poses and scenes that I wanted to take. For the first couple of shots, I positioned Naa Kordei and her friend in different poses, but something wasn’t right. They politely followed my direction, but they were a bit stiff. I knew the camera made them nervous. To loosen things up, I asked them what type of activities do they normally do when they hang out. “We usually laugh a lot and make music videos,” Naa Kordei answered. I asked to see one of their music videos and, to my surprise, they performed the entire routine. Careful not to distract the girls with my camera, I became a fly on the wall as I snapped photos of Naa Kordei and Alyssa giggling and dancing. They soon forgot that I was even there. It was amazing to see the girls open up and perform freely like no one was watching. During their 20 minute dance break, I didn’t capture a ‘winning shot’ of Naa Kordei and Alyssa. However, witnessing two beautiful young friends, carefree and content in their own skin, was well worth it.
Photo Credit: Khayla Deans for The Beautiful Project (Photo Also Featured in The Black Girl Triptych exhibit)