© James Barnor / Autograph ABP, 1950s and 1970s, Accra, Ghana
Photo #2 was taken at James Barnor's ’Ever Young’ studio in Accra, operated between 1953-1959. Visited by civil servants and dignitaries, performance artists and newly-weds, ‘Ever Young’ served as a social hub and community centre where, in the artist’s own words, “young and old met and discussed everything from politics to music and the latest fashion styles”.
"I learnt to retouch by hand. Long before Photoshop existed you would use a pencil. I would retouch the pictures to make people look younger." The studio had no running water so Barnor filled buckets from a communal tap for developing his pictures, and, as electricity was expensive, took most of the photographs in the daytime.
In the late 1950s Barnor decided to further his qualifications in England. Barnor had finally come to England in 1959 to study at Medway College of Art in Kent. When he left Ghana he already had a successful career as a portrait photographer with his own studio, and was a well-known photojournalist who documented Ghana’s campaign for independence during the 1950s.
After about 10 years in England Barnor returned to Ghana, where he helped open the first colour-processing laboratory in the country, the Studio ‘X23’, representing Agfa-Gaevert in Africa. Twenty-four years later he moved back to London. (read more)
Here’s a wonderful video produced by Autograph ABP featuring James Barnor talking about his first studio, life in the 1950s in Accra, and his time in London in the 1960s:
Here’s another video of James Barnor talking about his “Ever Young” studio.
Find Barnor’s photos taken in London (for Drum magazine) here.