In 1973 a group of African American photographers in New York City published the first volume of The Black Photographers Annual. Concurrent with the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, which encouraged the establishment of autonomous, black-owned publications to support black artists, the annual highlighted the work of forty-nine photographers. The majority of these images featured black subjects, photographed from a wide array of personal perspectives and expressed through a multitude of artistic styles.
Most of the picture editors for the first volume of The Black Photographers Annual were members of the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of African American photographers that had formed a decade earlier. (In the language of Kenya’s Kikuyu people, kamoinge means “to work together.”) While the forty-nine artists featured in the publication far exceeded the boundaries of the collective, the idea for the project emerged from a decade of conversations within the group about expanding opportunities for African American photographers.
In its April 1973 issue, Ebony magazine emphasized the importance of the annual for black photographers, who “have had few outlets for their work,” noting that the editors sorted through over 2,500 images to choose 118 for publication. Three more volumes were issued, in 1974, 1976, and 1980. We are pleased to make all four volumes available here online as VMFA simultaneously presents four consecutive photography gallery rotations over the next two years that explore each volume.
Founded by Beuford Smith and published by Joe Crawford, this digital representation of The Black Photographers Annual was made possible by the generosity of Mr. Smith who granted the VMFA a copyright license to present these volumes online for two years.
Link to the digital versions of The Black Photographers Annual:
Volume One, 1973
Volume Two, 1974