When Seydou Keïta (1921-2001) was given a Kodak Brownie Flash by his uncle in 1935, his career path took a new route. Originally an apprentice carpenter for his father, Keïta spent the following years teaching himself the technicalities of photography and eventually opened an outdoor studio in 1948 in Bamako Koura. As word quickly spread, it wasn’t long before Malians began flocking to his studio to have their portrait taken. “My experience taught me the positions that my customers liked best,” Keïta said. “You try to obtain the best pose, the most advantageous profile, because photography is an art, everything should be as close to perfection as possible.” As well as ornate backdrops, Keïta kept an array of props in his studio – from paper flowers to Vespas – and occasionally sitters would bring their own. In the black-and-white images he took during the late 1940s and 1950s, Keïta captures members of Malian society radiating with confidence, dignity and grace, epitomising Mali’s emerging freedom from colonialist rule and portraying them how they wished to be …
“This image documents a transcendental fact in the life of the person portrayed: Amadou had just been rescued from the sea by a European vessel,” says Dezfuli. “Apparently his dream is fulfilled. However, fear, mistrust and uncertainty are present, as well as determination and strength.” For his series, Passengers, photographer Cesar Dezfuli took a sequence of 118 photographs in 120 minutes as a boat load of refugees were rescued just off the coast of Libya. These people had journeyed from different countries looking for a better future in Europe.
“Rwanda is a country in progress,” says Jacques Nkinzingabo, a photographer born in Rwanda in 1994 – the year of the infamous genocide in which 500,000-1,000,000 Tutsi were killed by the Hutu majority government. “It’s one of the countries with the youngest population in Africa: most of them were born after the genocide,” he continues. “Of course, they have read the news, books, seen images online, but they didn’t experience it. So now they’re building their country. There is a mind-set now that there is no Hutu or Tutsi anymore; everyone is Rwandese. These people want to look beyond the past.”
The November issue of BJP takes you on a round the world trip with Journeys. From the markets of Lagos to the search for Jesus across the world, these are more than just trips; these journeys will alter your way of looking at the world.
“If you’ve been to Morocco I think you’ll understand that we’re a very colourful country, a colourful people. We see every colour being worn. In Morocco that there is the clash of colours and an attitude not to be scared of colours,” says Hassan Hajjaj. His latest exhibition, La Caravane, is about to launch at Somerset House, the first display for the British-Moroccan photographer in London in seven years. His work reflects on identity and culture, which has featured as a big part of his life and work since moving to the UK from a small port town in Morocco aged just 13.
“I meet people with more empathy and more care towards one another in war situations or in conflict around the world than I have ever experienced in Europe. People want to share the little they have with me because I have talked to them and shown an interest in them,” says Jan Grarup. His work has taken him to the sites of the worst conflicts – from obvious examples such as Iraq and Iran, to forgotten areas like the Central African Republic. Each place he visits, he stays to learn about the culture and customs of the people before taking their photographs. In these places of despair and destruction, Grarup often finds hope and resilience. But the Western world needs to be more active and share the responsibility to help these regions return to a peaceful existence.
Refugees and robots feature in the shortlisted images for this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, which is organised by the National Portrait Gallery.
The classic British butterfly house acts as the backdrop to Alexander Mourant’s Aurelian, an evocative study of the passing of time and the slippery nature of memory. “These hot, artificial environments are used through the work to probe the nature of experience, such as an assembly point, or an artist’s studio, as an envisioned idea where time is not absolute but continuously contained and all-encompassing,” says the 23-year-old, who recently graduated from Falmouth University.
Casting from the street and creating near-future looks, South African photographer Kristin Lee Moolman is creating “a new African mythology”, say her fans, which has already featured in an exhibition at Somerset House, and in fashion magazines such as Vogue
The work of Angolan photographer Délio Jasse is colourful and textured, experimenting with analogue photographic printing processes such as cyanotype and platinum. His work has caught the eye of London gallery Tiwani Contemporary, who now represent the 35-year-old. Jasse has previously exhibited at the gallery, which focuses on Africa and the diaspora, as part of the group exhibition The View From Here, and recent exhibitions include a solo show at SMAC Gallery, Cape Town (2014) and group shows at Savvy Contemporary, Berlin (2013) and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (2013). Jasse was also one of three finalists in the BES Photo Prize (2014), and is part of the official selections for the Angolan pavilions at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015) and World Expo, Milan (2015). His work draws links between generations and cultures, combining found imagery with his own photography to explore memory. As he tells us, “Photography and memory are deeply connected. Photography can bring you back to a moment in the past, we need a visual hint to remember certain things or faces. At …