Ghanian photographer and artistic trailblazer, James Barnor, has a career that spans over six decades. Born in Accra on June 6, 1929, Barnor, who is now 90 years old, is considered an art pioneer by both West African and international art enthusiasts. His impressive and wide array of work covers significant periods in history and spans across continents and photographic genres. Barnor was best known for capturing stunning fashion-forward portraits that helped tell the stories of people living in societies undergoing major transformations. In the 1950s, he was extremely instrumental in documenting Ghana's transition from a British colony to a powerful independent African nation.
Throughout his career, Barnor was known to disrupt the norm and use his art to break down social barriers. In the 1950s, he became Ghana's first full-time newspaper photographer. Barnor is also credited as the first Ghanian artist to employe the use of color processing back in the 1970s. According to Guardian Africa, James Barnor "helped put black women on the covers of British magazines and documented fashion in a country marching towards independence". Two of his most recognizable and noted works is a photograph of Muhammad Ali minutes before his match against Brian London at Earl’s Court, and his iconic photograph of BBC radio journalist Mike Eghan at the steps of Eros at Piccadilly Circus, London.
Throughout most of his active years as a photographer, Barnor's talents were only recognized by local Ghanaians who had the opportunity to view his work through local channels. It wasn't until his later years as an artist, that international audiences caught wind of the seasoned photography legend, and began displaying his work in different international spaces. The admiration of his work as a Black lifestyle photographer has grown even more recently as a result of new exhibits that have popped up in Ghana, France, and The Netherlands.
In honor of the legendary Ghanian photographer James Barnor, The Folklore curated a collection of our favorite and most fashion-forward Barnor photographs.