Malick Sidibé


I have been inspired by the work of Malick Sidibe throughout this year, to me his is a quintessential fashion communicator not only in his ability create imagery that moves me, but be a documentor of time, place and everything that goes with it- political climate, development- all seen through the characters of his subjects that he captures so seemlessly. For my third shoot, I have been particularly inspired by his Photo Studio works- the simple yet effective set is the perfect backdrop to a huge series of portraits that he has taken over years and years. Using a simple backdrop and patterned floor I hope to capture some of this photo studio spirit.

He opened his Bamako Studio in 1962, it is still open today run with help of his sons. The 'studio Malick' as it is named,  is situated the center of Bamako, it quickly became fashionable place.

“The studio, most of the times, worked during celebrating days. I could stand up three hours in front of the tripod. I had my son who used to be at the door for receptions, writing names, all this until very late the night. The studios of district remained open till a given time in the night, because there are many clients in the evening. There were at that time two types of dancers: the “Zazous” (hepcats), well-to-do, often from state employees families, who ordered their costumes at Saint Germain des-Prés, and the “Yéyés” (pop), less rich, without protocol, danced in local dances we called “dust dancing”. I had the privilege to photograph people in movement, who did not paynoticed me. I have never danced, but these young people breathed life and made me forget me my worries.”- Malick Sidibe 

Of the studio Jehal Nga for the Time Lightbox writes: Housed in a busy suburb of Bamako, Mali’s capital, Malick’s tiny studio has a readily detectable pulse — a touch shallower than I imagine it once was, but still present. The studio itself has become as much a subject in his photos as the countless men, women and children who have set foot inside the place to have their portraits made, or simply to visit with the local legend. The portraits, meanwhile, are remarkable, each one of the thousands of pictures somehow teasing out a central, telling element of the individual’s character. These portraits, one realizes, are evidence of a rare and intimate exchange, an empathy between sitter and portraitist.

Read more: Inside the Photographer’s Studio: Malick Sidibe - LightBox

A curtain used as a backdrop hangs in Malick Sidibe's Bamako studio. The curtain has been in use since the opening of the studio in 1960 and never has been replaced. Many of Sidibe's most famous photographs feature the backdrop. -Photo by Jedah Nga for Time Lightbox


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