Pictures can paint a thousand words, and can be a wonderful form of self expression. Because of talented photographers, we are able to look back on important events in history and feel transported to those important moments. Thousands of Black photographers have helped shape history through the moments they have captured, and many talented Black photographers today continue that important legacy. Here is a list of important historical Black photographers, as well as Black photographers gaining popularity in the 21st century for their talent and impactful photos.
Photographers from the 19th-20th Century
James Van Der Zee, born in 1886 in Massachusetts, launched his own studio after moving to Harlem with his wife in 1916. He was a prominent member of the Harlem Renaissance, photographing iconic Black creatives like Joe Louis, Florence Mills, Marcus Garvey, and more. Because of his work, he was the most successful photographer of his community and helped to document an important time for Black culture.