Photographer Roy DeCarava was an African-American genius of the lens. His use of shadows and darkness in his photos became his staple. His famous shots of Harlem Renaissance jazz musicians has come to be known in prominent museums throughout New York City including the Museum of Modern Art. From 1968-1975, his work was found in the magazine pages of Look, Newsweek, Life and Sports Illustrated.
His mother, an amateur photographer, first exposed DeCarava to photography. He worked as a shoe shine boy and delivered newspapers to help support his family. With a talented eye, the young student was awarded a scholarship at the Cooper Union School of Art. He was discouraged by the amount of discrimination he received from the white students and transferred to the Harlem Community Art Center.
Roy DeCarava was known to shoot something as simple as a subway station or apartment and turn it into a work of art. His photos have captured stills like Billie Holliday relaxing by the piano in a friend’s home, or Miles Davis standing on a small stage, stooped over his trumpet. Even Duke Ellington, dressed in white tie, smiling at the camera while on break in a recording studio. Using his small, 35-millimeter camera, DeCarava shot in black and white impressionism, and printed the photos in smooth shades of black and gray.
Watch video of DeCarava below.
In 1952, DeCarava became the first black photographer to receive the Guggenheim fellowship grant for $3,200. In a 1996 interview, DeCarava told press “there were no black images of dignity, no images of beautiful black people.There was this big hole. I tried to fill it.”
The photos of DeCarava can currently be seen in his publications, “The Sweet Flypaper of Life” (1955), with text by Langston Hughes and “The Sound I Saw, Improvisation on a Jazz Theme,” (1964).
Decarava died in 2009 at age 89.
Roy DeCarava Tribute from DeCarava on Vimeo.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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