Leaders are often self-taught. They are not inclined to follow the rules set by another. There is a inspired vision that drives them to make it real, and achieve what has consumed their mind's eye. This is the case of Malian photographer SEYDOU Keïta who without any prior photography experience, or resources, emerged as one of the greatest Portraiture Photographers of the 20th Century. Born in Bamako, Mali in 1921, Keïta did not have his first solo show until more than sixty years later in 1994 in Paris. Now recognized internationally as the father of African photography, Keïta's uncompromising lens displayed the beauty, strength, majesty, and swagger of ebony with only the most minimal of resources. Popular lore has it that he only took one photo per person in order to conserve the few film resources he had.
"It’s easy to take a photo, but what really made a difference was that I always knew how to find the right position, and I never was wrong. Their head slightly turned, a serious face, the position of the hands... I was capable of making someone look really good. The photos were always very good. That’s why I always say that it’s a real art." - Seydou Keïta, Bamako, 1995/1996
Scroll below to view a gallery of portraits by Seydou Keïta.