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Street Scene with Runners

James VanDerZee ( 1886–1983) Street Scene with Runners, 1930 Gelatin silver print 5 × 7 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of The Sandor Family Collection, Chicago 2000.11.4

By the early 1930s, James VanDerZee’s studio practice was in less demand owing to the stock market crash of 1929 and the growing popularity of personal cameras. VanDerZee generated income by moving from commissioned work to photo restoration, passport photos, and other miscellaneous photography jobs. Here, a Harlem street scene captures both passersby and two men participating in a race. This candid image is in marked contrast to VanDerZee’s posed portraits such as On the Town and The Midnight Ramblers.