Carl Van Vechten was an American writer and artistic photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the literary executor of Gertrude Stein.
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he was the youngest child of Charles and Ada Van Vechten. He graduated from Washington High School in 1898, and later the University of Chicago in 1903. In 1906, he moved to New York City.
He was hired as the assistant music critic at The New York Times. His interest in opera had him take a leave of absence from the paper in 1907, so as to travel to Europe to explore opera.