Gallery O

Portrait Collection Comprises 40 Years of Music

Professional editor and adult-educator for whom photography has been a constant since childhood, Susan O’Connor continues to build an internationally recognized collection of in-performance portraits of musicians, which are on permanent view in Gallery O at A selection of Performance Portraits is posted regularly to this site/page; other photos by Susan O’Connor can be found under Surroundings . [NB: links/titles to be tested @ Dec. 2020]

Find Gallery O on Jazzword

Susan O’Connor has been photographing since childhood and following the international jazz, free jazz and improvised-music scene with camera in hand for decades. From the early 1980s, when she was often the only (female) photographer at gigs, she used a hand-held analog camera in available light to record compelling monochrome images of jazz musicians in performance. Early in the 21st century, she switched to a digital camera and started shooting in colour, working to capture the feelings, spontaneity and passion she had been documenting for years in black and white film. From this has sprung www. with writer Ken Waxman and a brilliant webmaster behind the scenes.

Changing Venues, Changing Trends

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. James Brown is also featured. See Gallery O on

O’Connor has made both documentary and interpretive photographs in venues ranging from the theatre-seating St. Lawrence Centre to the floor-seating Preservation Hall; from churches to art galleries to open-air stages, and in homes and basement clubs lit with a few incandescent bulbs. 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 had several in her home base of Toronto, beginning in the 1990s.


Susan O’Connor’s evocative images have been published in CODA, Music Works and the Globe and Mail (Canada); JazzHalo (Belgium); the Wire (U.K.) and ArtVoice, Signal to Noise, Woove, JAZZIZ and All About Jazz New York. Her in-performance photos have been used by musicians and producers for promotional purposes in print and on line, and in discographies and books including New York is Now: The New Wave of Free Jazz and Steve Lacy: Conversations, and Francesco Martinelli’s discography of Mario Schiano’s works.  These images and some 4,000 more are displayed in Gallery O on Jazzword, a website dedicated to information and reviews of jazz-oriented musical improvisation.

Copyright Alert

All images on this site and our companion site copyright(c) the photographer: Susan O’Connor, and may not be reprinted without permission. Most digital files include easily accessed embedded copyright and other data; check under File Information. For enhanced copies or downloading and licensing inquiries, Contact Us.

Photos on this site and in Gallery O are deliberately reproduced in relatively low resolution with minimal cropping and alterations to deter unapproved reproduction. Some digital images have been converted to black and white for more effective online display.

Enjoy a visit to for more photos, articles and reviews of hundreds of international jazz, free jazz and improvising musicians live and on CDs. Check out the latest news on Twitter @newjazzword.