copyright Malick Sidibé from Bagadadji, published by Gwinzegal, 2007
As a rule, when I was working in the studio, I did a lot of the positioning. As I have a background in drawing, I was able to set up certain positions in my portraits. I didn't want my subjects to look like mummies. I would give them positions that brought something alive in them.
When you look at my photos, you are seeing a photo that seems to move before your eyes. Those are the sort of poses I gave them. Not poses that were inert or lifeless. No. People who have life need to be positioned that way.
In '57, there was a young lady who wanted to be photographed. One day she came in and I placed her in front of the camera. I had a Semflex. I positioned her and said, "Right, let's take your photo."
Read more of the interview at lens culture. The interview was transcribed from the video produced by Jerome Sother for Gwinzegal. Recorded in Rouen, 2008.