Adama Sylla was born in Saint-Louis, Senegal in 1934 and now lives there. He worked at the Musée de la Mer [Museum of the Ocean] on Gorée island before returning to Saint-Louis in 1957 to study photography at the Maison des Jeunes de Saint-Louis [Saint-Louis Youth Institute], where he became director of photographic reproduction. He worked as a conservator at the museum of the Centre de Recherches et de Documentation du Sénégal [Senegal Centre for Research and Documentation] (CRDS) in Saint-Louis. In 1963 he opened a small studio in Guel N’Dar, the neighbourhood where the Lebu communities reside in Saint-Louis.
A passionate collector of old photographs, Adama Sylla is also one of the pioneers of photography in Senegal. He works for the preservation and the diffusion of Senegalese cultural heritage throughout the world. His collection is internationally recognised and solicited; major museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York have purchased his photos. A large fraction of the reproductions found in L’anthologie de la photographie africaine [Anthology of African Photography], published by Editions Revue Noire, are taken from his collection. Adama Sylla understands his collection as a documentation-in-progress which he continues to add to today.
As a photographer, Adama Sylla shoots mostly landscapes, which is something of an exception in West Africa. He has also photographed his neighbourhood and the changes in the ocean.
- Bouna Medoune Seye, Mama Casset et les précurseurs de la photographie au Sénégal, 1950 : Meïssa Gaye, Mix Gueye, Adama Sylla, Alioune Diouf, Doro Sy, Doudou Diop, Salla Casset, Paris, Editions Revue noire, 1994.
- Pascal Martin Saint Léon, N'Goné Fall et autres, Anthologie de la photographie africaine et de l'Océan Indien, Paris, Editions Revue Noire, 1999.