In Pictures: Pioneering black photography collective Kamoinge

In Pictures: Pioneering black photography collective Kamoinge
We tell our own stories — A new photo book chronicles the wide-reaching power of Kamoinge, a collective of black photographers founded in 1960's Harlem to combat white domination of the photographic industry.

Named after the Kenyan Gikuyu word for “a group of people working together”, Kamoinge began as a rally against the tradition of black communities being photographed exclusively by white males. A collective was quickly born, with black photographers in 1960’s Harlem banding together to empower both themselves and those within their communities – telling their own stories, as opposed to having them told for them.

Kamoinge rapidly grew, no longer exclusively driven by New York photography, but expanding into suburban communities, the deep south of the USA, the deserts of Mali and Rwanda, and other areas where black faces and culture play defining roles.

Speaking to the New York Times in 2011, Kamoinge member Russell Frederick said, “What we’re documenting isn’t just black history. It’s American history; it’s global history. It’s something that everybody needs to see. It has been about dignity. It has been about our people. It’s about capturing what has been taking place within the community and a people misunderstood.”

Now a 384-page photo book has brought together many of the images taken by the collective since their inception. Timeless: Photographs by Kamoinge exposes an underrepresented and important touchstone within art history, as well as the complex, compelling and multi-faceted nature of wider black culture over the last fifty years.

Woman Shouting by Ray Francis (1963); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing.

Woman Shouting by Ray Francis (1963); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing.

 

Untitled by Perth Amboy (2000), Courtesy Schiffer Publishing

Untitled by Perth Amboy (2000); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing.

 

Dawn by Dan Dawson (1966); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing

Dawn by Dan Dawson (1966); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing.

 

Women in Mourning by Beuford Smith (2000); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing

Women in Mourning by Beuford Smith (2000); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing.

 

Stars Among Stars by Radcliffe Roye (2012); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing

Stars Among Stars by Radcliffe Roye (2012); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing.

 

Lower East Side NYC by John Henry Lower (1960); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing

Lower East Side NYC by John Henry (1960); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing.

 

Warmdaddy in the House of Swing by Frank Stewart (1996); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing

Warmdaddy in the House of Swing by Frank Stewart (1996); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing

 

Bride on the Beach by June DeLairre Truesdale (2007); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing

Bride on the Beach by June DeLairre Truesdale (2007); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing.

 

Dakar Roadside by Ming Smith (1972); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing

Dakar Roadside by Ming Smith (1972); Courtesy Schiffer Publishing.

Timeless: Photographs by Kamoinge is published by Schiffer Publishing, and is available from their website.

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