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Who was Roy DeCarava?

Roy DeCarava was an American photographer whose style has been described as gentle, graceful, and full of emotional intimacy. Despite his success as a photojournalist and commercial photographer, DeCarava gave up magazine and other commissioned work in order to satisfy his more artistic inclinations. Read on to find out a little bit more about him.

Roy DeCarava, Man with portfolio, 1959 © Roy DeCarava via Masters of Photography

Born in Harlem in December 1919, DeCarava first laid hands on a camera in the late 1940s. Having decided he wanted to be an artist, he quickly began working as a painter and commercial illustrator. For this reason, many of his early photographs were taken as reference for serigraph prints.

What drew DeCarava to photography was the immediateness of the medium and henceforth, he soon found himself communicating better through photography rather than painting.

Roy DeCarava, Window and stove, 1951 © Roy DeCarava via Masters of Photography

Like many other great photographers, DeCarava worked as a photojournalist to make ends meet. To his advantage, whilst other photo reporters were nothing but outsiders looking in, DeCarava’s status as a black Harlem resident made it easier for him to access as well as capture more intimate views of his subjects. Whilst other street photographers had to keep their distance from the people they photographed, DeCarava achieved more, even if, as a matter of fact, his subjects were strangers for him too.

Roy DeCarava, Mississippi freedom marcher, Washington, DC, 1963 © Roy DeCarava via Masters of Photography

In 1962, DeCarava worked on the set of Requiem for a Heavyweight. The director liked his photos so much that he bought nearly 200 prints. Despite this and other commercial successes, DeCarava found it difficult to produce ‘non-artistic’ work. He felt so strongly about the integrity of his vision, that he eventually gave up magazine and other commissioned work altogether.

Roy DeCarava, Gittel, 1950 © Roy DeCarava via Masters of Photography
Roy DeCarava, Graduation, 1949 © Roy DeCarava via Masters of Photography

Source/more info available at: Masters of Photography

written by webo29

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Spanish.