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JAMES VAN DER ZEE
[1886 – 1983] American photographer best known for his portraits of black New Yorkers
Being an artist, I had an artist's instincts....You can see the picture before it's taken; then it's up to you to get the camera to see. - James Van Der Zee

Somebody would come in and say, “I never take a good picture.” I’d say, “Why not? You’ve got two eyes, a nose, and a mouth like everybody else.” - James Van Der Zee

It’s a hard job to get the camera to see it like you see it. Sometimes you have it just the way you want it, and then you look in the camera and you don’t have the balance. The main thing is to get the camera to see it the way you see it. - James Van Der Zee

I guess it was just a matter of not being satisfied with what the camera was doing. I wanted the camera to take what I thought should be there, too. - James Van Der Zee

Being an artist, I had an artist’s instinct. Why, you have an advantage over the average photographer. You can see the picture before its taken; then it’s up to you to get the camera to see it. - James Van Der Zee

I guess it was just a matter of not being satisfied with what the camera was doing. I wanted to make the camera take what I thought should be there, too. I wasn't satisfied with just the people's picture. I wanted to see if I could incorporate what they were thinking about, and that [multiple-image technique] was my way of doing it. - James Van Der Zee

Some photographer wanted a darkroom man, and I figured I was "dark" enough for the job! - James Van Der Zee

Being an artist, I had an artist's instincts. Why, you have an advantage over the average photographer. You can see the picture before it's taken; then it's up to you to get the camera to see it. With the large-size film, I could add a lot with an etching knife and a retouching pencil. I paid attention to the face, I appreciated the face. - James Van Der Zee

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