A photographer a day: Malick Sidibé

In this series today, we look at master storyteller and legend; Malick Sidibe. 

Malik was born in Mali, in 1935.

Through his black and white imagery, he stayed away from the typical or expected picture of colonial imagery. Malick’s work is dynamic and full of energy focussing on the difficulties of adopting to city life, particularly for the youth of Mali. He told stories of their struggles, their joys and their mundane. For this reason, he soon became known as “the eye of Bamako” and “father of the streets of Mali” - a real pioneer in what we would today call street culture photography. In the sixties and seventies he focussed solely on the local youth. Caught in surprise snapshots, or posing leisurely, these youngsters drag him along on their numerous wanderings. To sports events, relaxing on the beach, a fight in the nightclub Happy Boys or the Surf Club, out to a concert or seducing girls” (Gallery 51). 

This was him: 

“To be a good photographer you need to have a talent to observe, and to know what you want. You have to choose the shapes and the movements that please you, that look beautiful. Equally, you need to be friendly, sympathique. It's very important to be able to put people at their ease. It's a world, someone's face. When I capture it, I see the future of the world. I believe with my heart and soul in the power of the image, but you also have to be sociable. I'm lucky. It's in my nature.”

Malick died at the age of 80, this year. But his spirit lives on through the many lives he has touched and those he has inspired greatly. I keep his words in my heart: it's a world, someone's face. When I capture it, I see the future of the world.

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