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Amber Pinkerton Rooted
Photography Amber Pinkerton

Locals only: intimate portraits from Amber Pinkerton in Jamaica

‘There is so much function and purpose in the way we style our hair. It makes a clear statement about who you are’

Welcome to Rooted, a campaign celebrating the power of black hair and the launch of ‘Tallawah’ – an exhibition by photographer Nadine Ijewere and hairstylist Jawara Wauchope. Here, we explore what the beauty of black hair is all over the globe, from Jamaica to London and New York to the screens of Nollywood films. 

“The beauty of Jamaica lies within it’s slow-paced, laidback nature,” says photographer Amber Pinkerton who shot a series of intimate close-up portraits of people in her hometown of Kingston for Dazed Beauty. “We Jamaicans live in our own little bubble of perceptions, problems, and jokes. It sometimes feels like a fantasy world where everything isn’t as serious, and you need a dose of that every now and then.”

Pinkerton’s photography always documents the simple, everyday beauty of life and the communities that reside within it, but for this project, she says, it was particularly important to her to capture true depictions of what is really on the streets day-to-day. 

To achieve this Pinkerton hung around public areas like Devon House, Hope Gardens, Manor Park, and Half Way Tree, finding the small everyday details of people – the hair, the tattoos, the nails, the piercings – that add up to make us who we are and that are at the same time both commonplace and extraordinary. “There is so much function and purpose in the way we style our hair— it has never been random. It makes a clear statement about who you are” she says.

The results are intimate images that are suffused with warmth and humanity. Snapshots that offer a look into the lives of Pinkerton’s subjects but also into the wider, specifically black, culture of Jamaica. “I like to look at the photograph as evidence, and to me, these images are culture-defining,” she says. “To us, it may seem normalised because we are so accustomed to seeing these styles or types of body art in our communities, but in an international context these things truly define us and you realise how different they are to the external world. I hope people realise and treasure that.”