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Photo of the Moment

Ingrid Smoliner
2018 Ingrid Smoliner

With more than 5,000 images on line and more in its archive, GalleryO comprises a comprehensive visual record of the changing landscape of jazz and creative improvised music in North America and Europe. Combined with the thousands of reviews and reports by Ken Waxman, JazzWord is a prime source of information on the genre.

Susan O’Connor has been following the international jazz, free jazz and improvised-music scenes with camera in hand for decades. In the early 1980s, when she was often the only (and usually the only female) photographer at gigs, she produced compelling black and white film images of jazz musicians in performance, inspired by the work of Herman Leonard, William Claxton and Francis Davis. In the early 1990s, her journalist-husband Ken Waxman and friend David Groskind, a brilliant webmaster, launched JazzWord, with GalleryO becoming the exclusive online venue for O’Connor’s work. Her work has also been exhibited in several Toronto locations and published in numerous books, industry magazines, CDs and posters.

Early in the 2000s, O’Connor began experimenting with digital cameras and shooting exclusively in colour, a change it has taken some time to embrace. With camera in hand, she continues listening and carefully watching performances to capture the feelings, spontaneity and passion she had been documenting and printing for years on film. Working in lighting and space situations of endless variety, musicians have continued to express their appreciation of her unobtrusive and consistent documentation of their work.

Charlotte Hug 2010 London
Charlotte Hug 2010 London

Changing Venues, Changing Sounds

Internationally recognized as a chronicler of improvisation and free-jazz artists including Barry Guy, William Parker and Carlo Actis Dato, O’Connor’s archive also comprises images of jazz greats Art Blakey, Milt Jackson and Betty Carter, plus blues artists including Etta James and Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson and Soul Brother #1, James Brown. See the alphabetical list above.

O’Connor has made both documentary and interpretive photographs in venues ranging from the plush St. Lawrence Centre in Toronto to New Orleans’ rustic Preservation Hall; from 13th-century chapels to art galleries to open-air stages, and in homes and basement venues lit with incandescent and LED bulbs, and sometimes only candles. Her work has captured the attention of critics, musicians, collectors, and lovers of jazz and improvised music in Canada, Europe and the U.S. Her first international exhibition took place in Austria in 2020, and she has staged several shows in Toronto since 1990.


Susan O’Connor’s evocative images have been published worldwide, including in CODA, Music Works and the Globe and Mail (Canada); JazzHalo (Belgium); the Wire (U.K.) and ArtVoice, Signal to Noise, WooveJAZZIZ and All About Jazz New York in the U.S and on numerous websites. Her in-performance photos have been used by musicians and producers for promotional purposes, and in discographies and books including New York is Now: The New Wave of Free Jazz, Francesco Martinelli’s discography of Mario Schiano’s works, and Steve Lacy: Conversations. Some of these images are displayed in GalleryO, while additional ones have been selected from her JazzWord Catalogue (link at the bottom).

Copyright (c) Susan O’Connor

To deter inappropriate reproduction and use, the photos on this site and in GalleryO are reproduced in relatively low resolution with minimal cropping and alterations. Some colour digital images have been converted to black and white for more effective online display.  All images on this site and our companion site are copyright (c) the photographer: Susan O’Connor.

Images shown may not be reprinted or used without written permission and a published credit. For enhanced copies or for downloading, reproduction and licensing inquiries, please e-mail the photographer at or her representative, Cynthia Sesso, at CTSIMAGES.