The Black Photographer’s Annual, volume 2

While browsing the photography section of the New York Public Library, I came upon volume 2 of the Black Photographer’s Annual published in 1974.

A book of black & white images, I was delighted to discover the mostly documentary work of photographers I’d never heard of and some I have met in person (like Chester Higgins, Jr.) 

This Google Books result features an article in the April 1973 issue of Ebony magazine. The article explains that with so few outlets for Black photographers to display their work, three men decided to publish this annual under the Black Photographers Annual, Inc. headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. Those three men were Joe Crawford (Editor & Publisher),Vernon Grant (Designer) and journalist Joe Walker (Assoc. Editor).

Volume 2 of the annual features the work of 51 photographers from the USA, Canada and England. Montreal’s Cyril Ryan was apparently one of the stars of the burgeoning photographic art scene in Canada during the early 1970’s.

England’s Dennis Morris is also featured, known for his iconic images of Bob Marley and The Wailers taken before the photographer was barely 17 years old. After seeing Morris’ work, the Sex Pistol’s Johnny Rotten asked him to shoot the band’s first official press photos and the rest is Rock and Roll photography history. Images from Morris’ “Growing Up Black” series of the Black community in Hackney, London are featured in the volume 2 of the annual.

The American photographers include:

Anthony Barboza, St. Clair Bourne, Ronnie Braithwaite, Bonnie Brissett, Vandell Cobb, Jim Collier, Bob Crawford, Joe Crawford, Cary Beth Cryor, Clarence Davis, Roy DeCarava, Albert Fennar, Mikki Ferrill, Roland L. Freeman, Kenley A. Gardner, Ronald K. Gray, Ted Gray, Al Green, George Hallett, Michael D. Harris, Chester Higgins, Jr., Reggie L. Jackson, Earl James, Omar Kharem, Jimmie Mannas, George Martin, Mickey Mathis, John Clark Mayden, Girard Mouton III, Jeanne Moutoussamy, Ozier Muhammad, P.H. Polk, George L. Robinson, Sa Rudolph, Robert Sengstacke, Ed Sherman, Ron Simmons, Beuford Smith, Jamyl Smith, Ming Smith, Chuck Stewart, Frank Stewart, Willard Taylor, Jerome Tucker, James Van DerZee, Eric G. Vann, Shawn Walker, Lewis Watts, Ted Williams

Unfortunately, it seems that the Black Photographer’s Annual only made it through four anthologies. Can you imagine what an archive we’d have of the Black experience captured on film if the annual was still published through the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and today? 

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