Meet James Barnor, one of Ghana’s foremost photographers to shoot in colour

James Barnor

One of the sentiments usually heard on the streets is that Ghana is not a country worth dying for because Ghanaians who chalk remarkable feats in their career are rarely celebrated substantially.

It appears there is an iota of accuracy in the aforementioned sentiment. Usually, Ghanaians who excel in their fields remarkably are celebrated only when they face their demise. In our quest to change this posturing, has decided, in our capacity to regularly celebrate Ghanaians who deserve utmost recognition of their outputs.

In this edition, we have chosen to celebrate James Barnor, one of Ghana’s first photographers to shoot in colour. Born on born 6 June 1929, James Barnor is a Ghanaian photographer who has been based in London, UK, since the 1990s. He has been doing photography for the past 6 decades.

He was Ghana’s first full-time newspaper photographer in the 1950s, and he is credited with introducing colour processing to Ghana in the ’70s. It has been said: “James Barnor is to Ghana and photojournalism what Ousmane Sembène was to Senegal and African cinema.”

Now a Nonagenarian, Barnor has spoken of how his work was rediscovered in 2007 during the “Ghana at 50” jubilee season by curator Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, who organised the first exhibition of his photographs at Black Cultural Archives (BCA). Appreciation of his work as a studio portraitist, photojournalist and Black lifestyle photographer has been further heightened since 2010 when a major solo retrospective exhibition of his photographs, Ever Young: James Barnor, was mounted at Rivington Place, London, followed by a series of exhibitions including in the United States and South Africa. His photographs were collated by the non-profit agency Autograph ABP during a four-year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and in 2011 became part of the new Archive and Research Centre for Culturally Diverse Photography.

His photographs have also in recent years had showings in Ghana, France (Paris Photo 2011, Galerie Baudoin Lebon; Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière), The Netherlands, and elsewhere and he remains in demand to give talks about his work.

Below are some of his photos shot in colour:





Credits:, Daniel Osei Afosa, Joshua Kissi, Wikipedia.


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