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Seydou Keita Hardcover – June 1, 1997
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What began as simple curiosity blossomed into an object of national pride; when Seydou Keita bought a camera to take pictures of his family, neighbors assumed his services were for hire and enlisted him to take portraits of themselves and their homes, turning a carpenter into a photographer and a hobby into artistic expression. In such a way did the self-taught Keita become the official photographer of Mali from 1962 to 1977, based almost solely on his impeccable reputation for quality and originality that developed by word of mouth. This stunning collection of 206 black-and white-portraits illustrates Keita's pride in his country and his gift for capturing the personalities of his subjects. His aim was to create the most natural settings and poses for the people in front of the lens, putting them at ease and gently nudging them into surrendering their inhibitions. Keita utilized a wide variety of props to further this goal, including bicycles, telephones, radios, and musical instruments. He also kept a variety of clothing on hand--both traditional and European--to help his subjects achieve a desired look or style. What comes across most clearly in these photos is the beauty of the people; Keita brilliantly exposes their essence by focusing on their images.
... Keita knew how to elicit confidence, portray intimate or familial ties and capture a person's nature. Unschooled and largely self-taught, Keita ... obviously relished his subjects' beauty, dignity and diversity. -- The New York Times Book Review, Christine Schwartz Hartley