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How an overlooked Black collective carved out pathways for a new generation of photographers

1st Annual International Black Photographers Dinner Honoring Roy DeCarava and James Van Der Zee, NYC, 1979, Courtesy of Anthony Barboza.

Kamoinge, a photography collective made up of 12 members at the time, was familiar with mainstream media and art spaces overlooking their work. So they took the lead instead, showing their photos in an unofficial Kamoinge gallery, critiquing each other’s work, putting together portfolios and mentoring young photographers. Their black-and-white images captured the many experiences of the Black community, and in their work they explored abstraction, street photography, portraiture and more.

In their photographs, Kamoinge Workshop members explored varying subject matters and styles with ease. They pushed back against media portrayals that cast Black communities in a negative light and, in forming the collective, bolstered each other’s work.

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