She’s just barely old enough to drink in the US, and photographer Kennedi Carter already got the distinct honor of photographing one of her idols, Beyoncé, in the process becoming the youngest photographer ever to shoot a cover for British Vogue.
Sure, Carter had a self-portrait featured in a special project on Black photographers in the New York Times. She’d shot portraits of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace for GQ. And she’d been honored with a spot on the British Journal of Photography’s 2020 Ones to Watch roundup, and won the single image award from Pride Photo in 2020.
But a Vogue cover and an audience with the Queen is, obviously, on another level for the photographer, who plans to graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro next year with a degree in African American studies.
Beyoncé requested that a woman of color shoot the portraits, and found Carter in collaboration with the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful. The three Vogue covers show Beyoncé in, respectively, outfits by Mugler, Adidas, and Alexander McQueen.
On her website, Carter, a Durham, North Carolina, native now living in Dallas, describes her work as exploring “the aesthetics & sociopolitical aspects of Black life as well as the overlooked beauties of the Black experience: skin, texture, trauma, peace, love, and community.”
Her photos show Black people—young men perched on horseback, older women in their Sunday best, and members of her own family—in closely studied but seemingly casual compositions.
“I had done a lot of research into how she works, and I had underestimated how much she’s willing to submit herself to a vision and truly become someone else’s muse,” Carter told Vogue, noting that she admires the singer’s ability to “control her own narrative.”
And it sounds like the young Carter has sufficient composure to control her own, telling Vogue that after the shoot was done, “I just got home, got into bed, and went to sleep.”
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