I recently discovered the photography of Seydou Keita, a self taught Malian photographer born in 1921, and was really impressed by the strength of his portraits but also the use of backgrounds in his work, so I decided to pick him this wednesday. Initially trained to become a carpenter, he was gifted a camera by an uncle and that obviously changed his life. He began practising and changed to large format, eventually building his own studio filled with fascinating props right behind the main prison. His love of photography allowed him to begin practising with family and neighbour and ending up having photographed a whole society and country in transition.
It is only well deserved that Seydou Keita should be recognized as one of the masters of photograph in the 21st century. His work in the 40s, 50s, and 60s not only portrays the era of change in Bamako, crossing from a cosmopolitan French colony to an independent capital but introduces a new style. Lacking the pretence of many western photographers, he still remained highly skilled and managed to achieve an astonishing degree of intimacy in every photo he took, which makes it possible for him to be considered an art photographer without second thought. The bohemian beauty of his subjects and the geniusly inventive positioning modernized photography long before modern photography existed.