Saturday, February 5, 2011
Keeping with the theme of my blog and how it started originally, I’m going to take a look at the photographer James VanDerZee. James VanDerZee was born in Lenox, Massachusetts on June 29, 1886. He came from a family of six children and his parents earned their living by baking while the sons in the family delivered the goods on foot and horseback. He started with photography when he was young, and decided to sell yellow and pink silk satchels to women with the intent to buy a camera.
His first professional job was in Newark, New Jersey. By the end of World War 1, he opened his first studio in New York. While he was there he primarily photographed the city of Harlem. He photographed all kinds of things, from celebrities to parades. He continued to take pictures of his community and other places, even with the development of home cameras that turned everyone into a photographer. Unfortunately it wasn’t until VanDerZee was in his 80s in 1969 when he got recognized outside of Harlem. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art decided to have an exhibition called “Harlem on My Mind” and gave 100,000 photographs to the museum for use.
He has been honored with many different things for his photographs and is a well-known photographer in the black art field. He opened the door for many more people in not only the photography field but in the arts all together. He helps fuel my passion, and I am so grateful.