Presentation on theme: "James Van Der Zee Amanda Fosnight 1920 self portrait."— Presentation transcript:
James Van Der Zee Amanda Fosnight 1920 self portrait
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