By Andrea Loney Illustrated by Keith Mallett
James VanDerZee was just a young boy when he saved enough money to buy his first camera. He took photos of his family, classmates, and anyone who would sit still for a portrait. By the fifth grade, James was the school photographer and unofficial town photographer. Eventually he outgrew his small town and moved to the exciting, fast-paced world of New York City. After being told by his boss that no one would want his or her photo taken by a black man, James opened his own portrait studio in Harlem. He took photographs of legendary figures of the Harlem Renaissancepoliticians such as Marcus Garvey, performers including Florence Mills, Bill Bojangles Robinson, and Mamie Smithand ordinary folks in the neighborhood too. Everyone wanted fancy portraits by James VanDerZee.