James Barnor, who grew up in Accra and now lives in London, got his start photographing sports celebrities like Muhammad Ali, leaders of Ghana’s independence movement, and Africans living in England (his first camera was a plastic point-and-shoot). Though he temporarily returned to Ghana to establish the first color-processing photo lab there, he made his name doing glamorous fashion photography. Drum was the name of one of Africa’s most popular magazines in the 60’s, and Barnor regularly shot its covers, photos of black models in quintessential English scenes: in front of a red telephone box, exiting a tube station, or surrounded by pigeons in Trafalgar Square.
More than that, his photos are a fuzzily poignant time capsule: a polaroid of England as its different ethnic groups ebbed and flowed, mixed and crossed. The first comprehensive exhibition of his street and studio work, called Ever Young, runs until November 27 at Autograph ABP in London.