James Barner was born in Accra, Ghana in 1929 and started his photographic career with a makeshift studio in Jamestown. From the early 1950s he operated Ever Young studio in Accra and worked as a photographer for the Daily Graphic newspaper, as well as Drum, Africa's foremost lifestyle and politics magazine. He left Ghana for the UK in 1959 and studied photography at Medway College of Art in Kent. He returned to Ghana in 1969 as a representa tive for Agfa Gevaert to introduce colour processing facitlities in Accra.
He is currently retired and lives in Brentford, London. Since Autograph ABP's archival intervention in 2010, Barnor's work has been shown internationally at venues including Harvard University, Boston; South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Rivington Place, London; Tate Britain, London; and Paris Photo 20 12. His photographs are represented in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate and Government Art Collection in Britain, as well as in numerous international private collections.