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© Adama Kouyaté

#1: Ségou, Mali, 1971
#2: Bouaké,
Ivory Coast, 1967

The son of a master shoemaker, Malian photographer Adama Kouyaté was born in the French Sudanese village of Bougouni (now Mali) in 1928. A contemporary of Malik Sidibé and Seydou Keïta, his introduction to photography occurred in 1946 when on Christmas day, he sat with a friend for a studio portrait in Bamako. The picture was so beautiful that from then on he dreamt of only one thing, becoming a photographer.

When in 1947 he decided to learn photography, he approached the masters, learning from the likes of such photography pioneers as Bakary Doumbia and of course, Pierre Garnier, “the white master of West African photography” for whom, after much insistence, he became a laboratory assistant in his studio “Photo Hall Soudanais”.

In 1949, Adama Kouyaté opened his first studio, “Photo Hall Kati”, in Kati, near Bamako. In 1964, he left for Ouagadougou in Burkina, then in 1966 went to the Ivory Coast city of Bouaké. Finally, in 1969, he returned to Mali and settled in Ségou, located on the route to the Dogon. His studio, “Photo Hall d’Union”, located on the central commercial Elhadj Oumar Tall street, was an immediate success.

As is shown in the book “Studios d’Afrique” published by Gang books, the photographer never ceases to innovate in this tiny storefront space. In the heat of the spotlights, the photographer tries to communicate with his subject. It is important to note that until the 1980’s, the studio was an obligatory rite of passage for people wanting to remember key times in their lives, most people didn’t own a personal camera. (read more)

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