He captured poets, jazz giants and everyday black America. As a new exhibition of the great Harlem-born photographer’s work opens, his widow Sherry Turner DeCarava remembers his craft

Once, when asked why his prints were so dark, Roy DeCarava replied, “I happen to believe that photography is not about black and white; it’s about greys.” At London’s David Zwirner gallery, the first UK exhibition of DeCarava’s work in more than 30 years is a quietly mesmerising testament to the expressive tonalities of that neutral, in-between colour.

“Roy is an artist who is known for the darkness of his prints,” says his widow, Sherry Turner DeCarava, an art historian who has deftly curated the exhibition to highlight the sustained mood music of her late husband’s work. “But it is deep understanding of the nature of light that gives quality to his pictures.”

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