Roy DeCarava – great American photographer

Though both Letter to Jane and Time’s Looking Around, I’ve learned that a great American photographer died this week: Roy DeCarava. These three sites can give you a better appreciation of why he is a great photographer. Looking at his work, I love his mastery of shadow as in this photo:

Indeed, a lack of light is a major element of this work, be it from the darkness of the room or the opaqueness of the window. I find my eye working harder to draw what little light there is in this photograph. The lack of light is one of the things that engages me when I see this image. (It’s a great composition, generally, with the parallel angles formed by the clothes lines and pot handle, the parallels again of the water tower and the pot, the way the stove “connects” on an angle with the middle line of the window, giving the photo depth, and the tryptch quality that comes from the three “panels” formed by the window on the left and middle and the wall on the right.)

One of the things I love about Manet’s paintings is how well he is able to use the colour black in his work. Not just as one more colour, but as a major element of the composition that changes the way you look at the work. DeCarava does that well too. And so much more.

Great works of photography. Go (re)visit.

3 responses to “Roy DeCarava – great American photographer

  1. I really like Roy DeCarava and would love to buy a print/poster but it seems impossible to find one. Do you have any suggestions on where I might look, since you’re obviously a fan too. Thank you!

    • smartpeopleiknow

      Sorry, I don’t know. I would recommend you check on museums that may have his work or have exhibited his work recently. They will often have posters and books of the artist, and they may have online shops. You could also consider looking for used art books of DeCarava and if they are big enough, you can them up and frame the pages. (Some people consider this a travesty, but it can be a good way to get poster sized works, and art books are often on better quality paper and printed better than posters.).

      Good luck!

  2. Posters of Roy DeCarava works can be purchased through his Archive:

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