An intimate photo series shows the intensely relaxing moments people are enjoying post-lockdown while having their hair washed at salons.
Having a shampoo and conditioner in the comfort of a hair salon is just one of the many pleasurable moments that people have missed out on during the last two years due to the Covid pandemic.
But as salons once again start to open up around the world, photographer Cihan Oncu set out to capture people at their most relaxed, free from the stresses of the pandemic.
The Turkish photographer began visiting his local hair salon every week, and capturing customers’ expressions as they settled in to having shampoo and conditioner massaged into their scalps.
And he found that, whilst people were initially wary of him being there with his camera, the calming effect of the simple hair wash was enough to relax them into being very open with him about their lives.
Cihan says: “When the pandemic first started, everyone around me was really stressed, so I was thinking about the moments in life when people feel most relaxed.
“I remembered that when I got my hair washed at the salon, it was so calming that I almost felt like a baby.
“The idea was to shoot different people in this position and hopefully, in turn, to feel relaxed myself.
“One of my friends has a hair salon, so I asked him if I could come by and take some photos.
“I spent several months visiting the salon, meeting people and taking their portraits.
“This shows them in their most innocent, sincere and comfortable moments.
“They were confused about the camera at first, but I asked them to pretend I wasn’t there and to just enjoy the moment.
“I photographed loads of different characters, each with their own reactions and expressions.”
Cihan adds that, while photographing the project, he came across the phenomenon of ASMR – autonomous sensory meridian response – a relaxing response to sounds and images which has slowed itself to a huge online trend over the last few years.
People search YouTube for videos of other people whispering, or crinkling wrapping paper, or spraying a water bottle, in order to achieve a “tingling” feeling in their head and down their spine by watching them.
Cihan explains, “After I had been shooting this project for a while, I came across a trend called ASMR, and I realized that the expressions were also related to it.
“Getting a head massage releases a circuitry throughout the body that puts the person into this relaxed and mindful moment of contemplation.
“The facial expressions are so interesting, and they’re quite closely related to the ASMR trend.
“People just don’t think about anything at that moment. You can see in their faces that they are temporarily drifting away from their worries.
“Beforehand, I would try to talk to them but they were nervous and didn’t want to open up about their life.
“Afterwards, though, I asked the same questions, and they would have a lot more to say.”