Weems has been a photographer and artist since the 1965 and her work has been featured in over 50 exhibits throughout her career. In 1983, she created her first collection of photographs and spoken word called, Family Pictures and Stories. Some of her other works include, Sea Island Series (1991-92), the Africa Series (1993), From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995-96), Who What When Where (1998), Ritual & Revolution (1998), the Louisiana Project (2003), Roaming (2006) and others. Weems has earned many awards for her work, including becoming a MacArthur Fellow in 2013.
Van Der Zee was a major artist in the Harlem Renaissance. During the 1920s, he documented some of the most famous Black people of the time, including Florence Mills, Hazel Scott, Marcus Garvey, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Countee Cullen and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Even though his work was popular, Van Der Zee never garnered major financial success. In the 1970s, he went back to portrait photography, photographing celebrities like Bill Cosby, Lou Rawls, Cicely Tyson and Jean-Michael Basquiat.