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Thu, 06.06.1929

James Barnor, Ghanaian Photographer born.

James Barnor

*James Barnor was born on this date in 1929. He is a Black African photographer.

Frederick Seton James Barnor was born in Accra, Ghana, West Africa. At 17, Barnor was teaching basket weaving at a missionary school, and the headmaster gave him a camera "to play around with––it was a Kodak Brownie 127, made of plastic". In 1947, Barnor started an apprenticeship with his cousin, a well-known portrait photographer, "mostly taking pictures of people because when you take pictures of flowers and places, there's nobody to pay for them. I did that for two years, but I had always wanted to be a policeman. I applied to be a police photographer and was accepted. Still, before I could start my training, my uncle gave me the camera he used for photography."

He was Ghana's first full-time newspaper photographer in the 1950s. He introduced color processing to Ghana in the 1970s. His career spans six decades, and although for much of that period, his work has been discovered by new audiences. In his street and studio photography, Barnor represents societies transitioning in the 1950s and 1960s: Ghana moving toward independence and London becoming a multicultural metropolis. Barnor, based in London since the 1990s, has spoken of how his work was rediscovered in 2007 during the "Ghana at 50" jubilee season by curator Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, who organized the first exhibition of his photographs at Black Cultural Archives (BCA).

Appreciation of his work as a studio portraitist, photojournalist, and Black lifestyle photographer has been further heightened since 2010 when a major solo retrospective exhibition of his photographs, Ever Young: James Barnor, was mounted at Rivington Place, London, followed by a series of exhibitions including in the United States and South Africa. His photographs were collated by the non-profit agency Autograph ABP during a four-year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

2011, it became part of the new Archive and Research Centre for Culturally Diverse Photography. In 2011, Barnor's photographs were shown in Ghana, France, and the Netherlands. The first monograph of his work, James Barnor: Ever Young, was published in 2015, including an extensive conversation between Barnor and Margaret Busby with Francis Hodgson.

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