James Van Der Zee

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James Van Der Zee
1920 self portrait
Amanda Fosnight
Who Was James Van Der Zee?
James Van Der Zee was a Harlem Renaissance photographer who aimed to
reflect the African American middle class showing dignity, achievement,
idealism and success through his photos. Van Der Zee really had no direct
inspirations other than his love for photography and his goal to reflect
Harlem and middle class African Americans in good light.
Early Years
• Born June 29, 1886
• Was a self taught photographer
• Purchased his first camera
in 1899
• Was raised on music and
art but always preferred
photography
Accomplishments
• Opened his own studio called “Guarantee Photo”
• Was hit hard by the Great Depression but was rediscovered
with his exhibition of his collection “Harlem on My Mind”
• Received many awards for his photography including an
honorary doctorate at Howard University
Some Interesting Facts…
“I tried to see that every picture was better looking than the person.”
-James Van Der Zee
• James Van Der Zee photographed many subjects from
portraits in his studio to sports events, family gatherings,
funerals, weddings, church groups and even celebrities
including Cicely Tyson, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Bill Cosby.
• He retouched negatives to straighten teeth, add jewelry, fill
bald spots and even merged several images into one picture.
Things like this were unheard of at the time because there
were no computers and all negative retouching had to be
done by hand in a dark room.
This is one of his
most famous
retouched
negatives. The
child on the floor
was actually
another image
added on top of
the wedding
portrait.
“I wanted to to make the
camera take what I
thought should be
there.”
James Van Der Zee
James Van Der Zee took
and developed over
75,000 photographs.
He died in the year 1983
at the age of 96 but his
photography lives on
and represents an
important part of
American history- the
Harlem Renaissance.
To veiw more Van Der Zee photos visit
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSLMZ3igO-c
Sources
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Esperstamps.org
Scholastic.com
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://harlemworldblog.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/basketall3.
jpg&imgrefurl=http://harlemworldblog.wordpress.com/2008/02/15/the-james-van-der-zeeseries/&usg=__IZlV_HAbS66tOf1sDMo800n6p38=&h=530&w=400&sz=132&hl=en&start=1&zoom=1&tbni
d=MDyID5j_D9EuHM:&tbnh=132&tbnw=100&ei=bv5uTYTuBonWtge72LGLDw&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dja
mes%2Bvan%2Bder%2Bzee%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1
auca150art.com
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://harlemworldblog.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/jamesvand
erzee.jpg&imgrefurl=http://harlemworldblog.wordpress.com/2008/01/28/harlems-james-van-derzee/&usg=__SO43qvBy_W9QWMxxGqHlubfNMzI=&h=287&w=500&sz=18&hl=en&start=3&zoom=1&tbni
d=aEXjzF3gRReSfM:&tbnh=75&tbnw=130&ei=bv5uTYTuBonWtge72LGLDw&prev=/images%3Fq%3Djames
%2Bvan%2Bder%2Bzee%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1
www8.georgetown.edu
valentinenewyork.com
clarkeartconsulting.com

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