The great African portraitist Seydou Keita lived in Bamako, Mali from 1921 to 2001. A self-taught photographer, he opened a studio in 1948 and specialized in portraiture. Seydou Keita soon photographed all of Bamako and his portraits gained a reputation for excellence throughout West Africa.
His numerous clients were drawn by the quality of his photos and his great sense of aesthetics. Many were young men, dressed in European style clothing. Some customers brought in items they wanted to be photographed with but Keita also had a choice of European clothing and accessories – watches, pens, radios, scooter, etc. – which he put at their disposal in his studio. The women came in flowing robes often covering their legs and their throats, only beginning to wear Western outfits in the late 60s.