The beauty of black life, jazz giants to ordinary neighborhood residents
August 27, 2018 7:58 AM   Subscribe

In 1973, when photographers Beuford Smith and Joe Crawford began working on The Black Photographers Annual, black photographers had few outlets for publishing work about ordinary black life that didn’t fit the news cycle of the day. For their first issue, Smith and Crawford gathered images from well-established photographers such as Roy DeCarava and photos the legendary James Van DerZee had made during the Harlem Renaissance. But what made The Black Photographers Annual so influential is that it gave a platform for members of the Kamoinge collective and numerous other photographers who had photographed a variety of stories and subjects.

From The Modern Art Notes Podcast No. 315: Beuford Smith on The Black Photographers Annual, Teenie Harris:
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond is now showing “Like a Study in Black History: P.H. Polk, Chester Higgins and The Black Photographers Annual, Volume 2.” The Black Photographers Annuals were books that were created, published and edited by black artists and that featured the work of black photographers. The Annual was co-founded by Joe Crawford and photographer and editor Beuford Smith, who is the guest on the first segment of this week’s MAN Podcast.

Curated by Sarah Eckhardt, “Like a Study in Black History” [was] on view through April 15, 2018. It is the second in a series of VMFA collection rotations exploring the four volumes of The Black Photographers Annual (1973-80). (The first exhibition may be accessed here.) In conjunction with the exhibitions, Smith granted the VMFA a license to present the four volumes of The Black Photographers Annual online for two years. Each volume may be accessed here:
All volumes are hosted in FlippingBook, an online pseudo-book format, complete with page turning animations and sounds.
posted by filthy light thief (3 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Very interesting, indeed. I once had pretensions of becoming a photographer but after looking at The Family of Man and other photographers' work, I knew I'd never rise to those heights. So now I just enjoy them. Thanks.
posted by MovableBookLady at 9:59 AM on August 27, 2018

Nice. I'm constantly in awe of Teenie Harris' work and just went to a talk by the curator of his archives at The Carnegie last week. He was famous for his ability to get the shot in one take and get it perfectly. I do a lot of film photography and lately have been using a 4x5 press camera like he used and the fact that he could get the framing and exposure right every time without using either a meter or a tripod just blows me away.

One very cool thing is that the curator of the archives, grew up in PIttsburgh's Hill District where Harris worked and knew him well. Here's a terrible camera shot I took of her and a picture of her as a baby that Harris took.
posted by octothorpe at 10:25 AM on August 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wow. These are fantastic. (And well worth every single animated page turn.)

The difference between many of these images and photos from the same time and places taken by well-meaning white journalists is striking.
posted by eotvos at 11:22 AM on August 28, 2018

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