Happiness is a perfume, you can't pour it on someone else without getting a few drops on yourself - James Van Der Zee (American photographer)

James Van Der Zee, "The Picture taking Man” was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920-30s. 

Van Der Zee, also called "The Picture Taking Man", was best known for his pictures of African American mostly middle class New Yorkers. Although he originally showed an affinity for music and planned to be a violinist, after receiving a camera at age 14 he focused all his creative energy on photography, eventually taking hundreds of pictures including celebrities of the time. Most of his work was in a studio environment but he also documented weddings and funerals. He cataloged a collection of funerary images in his book, The Harlem Book of the Dead. Sometimes Van Der Zee's photos contained some darkroom special effect double exposure manipulation, groundbreaking for era. With the advent of personal cameras and the financial crisis of the 1930's demand for his work fell to decline. He is reported to have barely maintained a living by shooting passport and other miscellaneous photo jobs. He gained worldwide recognition in 1969 when his work was featured in the exhibition Harlem on My Mind at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York garnering the attention of other photographers and photo historians.
These are some of my favorite of his images:


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