Wow! What progress! Its beautiful! Sadly, my hair always resembles your hair in the 2nd pic. :/ Can't do anything right.
Wow! You've made amazing progress, your current hair looks fantastic <3
I love the length, definition and shine in the first picture! I completely understand what you're saying though. I've been contemplating getting layers because I'm having the same 'flat' issue. My hair is super fine, almost down the tailbone when wet but I love the clumpy look so any volume is pretty much impossible right now. I use a deva diffuser (not their super expensive blow dryer, just the attachment) to dry around my scalp and give my roots some lift but by the end of the day...back to looking flat.
I just have to make the effort to find a stylist who knows how to cut curly hair. Also, I'm afraid of the amount it's going to cost compared to the $15 "straight hair" trims I'm used to getting. I guess you get what you pay for.