Woman with a flower brooch

Photographer Salla Casset Senegalese

Not on view

By the 1950s, ten years before Senegal gained independence from France, portrait photography had become a lucrative and flourishing business across the country, even outside the main urban centers. While photographers often did not sign their prints, each developed their own aesthetic and cultivated a unique clientele. Mama and Salla Casset were among the most popular photographers in Dakar. Born to a middle-class Saint-Louisian family, the Casset brothers began their careers in the 1910s as assistants to French photographers Tennequin and Oscar Lataque, and eventually established individual studios in the capital at the end of the 1930s. As urban photographers, their customers were the ascending middle-class population, whose taste and imagination were fed and nourished by burgeoning mass-media culture, including popular magazines and films from North Africa, Europe, India, and the United States.

Salla’s interest in photography stemmed from his brother Mama. He opened his own studio in 1937, which he would eventually pass on to his son, Abdoulaye. Using artificial lighting, Mama and Salla Casset modulated the image's sharpness and tonal contrasts and created dynamic images that enthrone the sitter like a film star under the spotlight. In this example, Salla diverges from the conventions of earlier formal studio portraiture in West Africa with the sitter's averted gaze.

Woman with a flower brooch, Salla Casset (Senegalese, 1910–1974), Gelatin silver print

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