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James Barnor was born in Accra, Ghana in 1929. He began work as a photographer in Accra’s Jamestown district in 1947 where he set up the Ever Young studio, taking photographs of the local community. He also worked as a photojournalist for the Daily Graphic and Drum magazine, which led him to London in the 1960s. Beyond his studio photography and press commissions, Barnor also has an extensive archive of street reportage. After spending the 1960s in Britain, Barnor returned to Ghana at the end of the decade where he helped open the country’s first colour-processing laboratory. In 1993, after 24 years in Ghana, Barnor returned to London where he continues to live today. His varied body of photographic work documents the shift towards modern living as experienced by black people in both Africa and Britain.


James Barnor, 'Wedding Guests in London', 1960s. Museum no. E.102-2012. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

James Barnor, 'Wedding Guests in London', 1960s. Museum no. E.102-2012. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

James Barnor, 'Mike Eghan, Piccadilly Circus', 1967. Museum no. E.103-2012. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

James Barnor, 'Mike Eghan, Piccadilly Circus', 1967. Museum no. E.103-2012. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.


James Barnor, 'Eva, London', 1960. Museum no. E.104-2012. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

James Barnor, 'Eva, London', 1960. Museum no. E.104-2012. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

James Barnor, 'Everything In My Hand I Bring', circa 1953. Museum no. E.105-2012. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

James Barnor, 'Everything In My Hand I Bring', circa 1953. Museum no. E.105-2012. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.


James Barnor, 'Selina Opong, Policewoman #10', circa 1954. Museum no. E.106-2012. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

James Barnor, 'Selina Opong, Policewoman #10', circa 1954. Museum no. E.106-2012. © James Barnor/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Audio: Oral history

James Barnor discusses his image of Mike Eghan.

View transcript of video

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