So far as I know, there is no "Black Photographers Annual" planned for 2009. If you can find the 1973 version, however, you'll find the work of masters such as Roy deCarava and Anthony Barboza--both of whom defy easy categorization.
As demonstrated by the above "Black Photographers Annual" from 1973, there once such a thing as a "black photographer." Not only that, the term was in common use, at least among the other black photographers I hung out with.
As I understood it at the time, this descriptor meant not only that we were of African-American descent, but that there was an identifiable black consciousness in the way we expressed ourselves through photography. If you were to look at the photographs in "The Black Photographers Annual" you couldn't help but draw the conclusion that the primary requirement was to take empathetic black and white photographs of black people and their environs.
The problem with labels like these, as any good Zen student would tell you, is that it's easy to confuse the label with the thing itself; or rather, to believe that the label describes reality. This fiction starts to fall apart when you start asking questions such as:
- Suppose a European, Asian, or Latin American photographer took exactly the same types of photographs. Would that make them a "black photographer?"
- Suppose an African-American photographed nothing but naked white women. Would he no longer qualify as a "black photographer?"
- What does any racial, ethnic, national or gender adjective in front of the word photographer really tell you about their work? "Wedding photographer" is a useful category. "Female photographer" is not.
Just to be clear, I take considerable pride in my African-American heritage. I also most definitely consider myself a photographer. So if someone calls me a black photographer I wouldn't be insulted, nor would I take issue with it. All I'm saying is that I'm glad that American society has progressed to the point that most people care more about the work than the race of the person who produces it. And what better proof of that than the current president of the United States?
Of course, this is just a minority perspective. What do you white photographers have to say about all of this?