James Van Der Zee was born in Lenox, Massachusetts. When he was 14, he received his first camera from a magazine promotion. He loved the gadget, and by 1916 set up a photography studio in Harlem, NY. His photographs of black New Yorkers span five decades. His images captured weddings, teams, clubs, and people finely dressed. In 1969, an exhibit called Harlem on My Mind at the Metrropolitan Museum of Art in New York showcased his work.