The youngest Vogue cover photographer hosts masterclass at N.C. A&T

Paul+Baker%2C+Director+of+the+University+Galleries%2C+and+Kennedi+Carter+talk+to+students+during+the+media+masterclass.

Paul Baker, Director of the University Galleries, and Kennedi Carter talk to students during the media masterclass.

Nakylah Carter, theScene Editor

Kennedi Carter, the young photographer who made Vogue history last year, visited N.C. A&T’s campus to talk to college students interested in the art, photography and media arena. 

Carter’s work has been featured in Vogue, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and TIME Magazine. The savant for editorial photography was granted the opportunity to capture musical legend Beyoncé for the cover of British Vogue. By doing so, Carter made history as the youngest photographer in Vogue history to complete a cover shoot. 

“We had to do 17 looks in one day. We had to do eight looks the next day. I just had never shot for that long,” Carter said. “For two days, I did not sleep prior to that shoot, and for three days, I slept. I slept three days straight right after. I still have never had a shoot like that ‘till this day.”

The Durham, North Carolina native began to build her interest in photography in high school, finding things to inspire her and fuel her craft. When Carter researched some of the Black women photographers in the industry growing up, she was baffled and upset to find there were not many photographers who were like her. 

Carter faced many challenges and doubts from not only other people but often herself. To succeed, she realized she had to change her mindset about her craft. 

“No matter what or where I was, I was going to make the work that I wanted as if nobody’s watching,” Carter said. 

Carter went to the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) for two years before she took a gap year to pursue her dreams. During this time, she focused on finding her type of photography, and after an independent shoot in Fayetteville, N.C., she finally found her style. 

There were times when she was doubtful, but she stayed faithful in her path and faithful that she would achieve her goals. 

“You’re not making work for money at the end of the day, it is strictly for you, and if other people happen to look at it, if other people happen to enjoy it, then good for them,” Carter said. 

From her first booking for the New York Times regarding ballet dancers in their off-season to an editorial shoot for Essence magazine, Carter was able to make her name more known in the industry, leading to her Vogue shoot with Beyoncé in 2020. 

“I think everyone needs someone that looks like them in an industry that they want to pursue,” Carter said. “I think the few people that I had when I was doing research on who it is I wanted to be like when I was older– I think the pedestal I held them on, and I just realized how important they were and the forming of my process. It makes me feel good if I could be in proximity to that [for other people].”

This event was hosted in the University Galleries in Dudley Building as part of the “1900 Lecture” commemorating the year when N.C. A&T joined the Negro Exhibition created by W.E.B. Dubois at the Paris Exposition in France. 

Carter knew immediately she would be open to talking to the Aggies and understood the importance of the university. 

“I think A&T holds a lot of weight just in the South, as well as HBCUs overall,” Carter said.

The inspiration stressed that the reason for her craft was to portray what she was passionate about and to highlight the overlooked beauties of black experience “ through skin texture, peace, love, trauma and community. Carter plans to get back to practicing her personal mantra and make art as if nobody’s watching. 

“I think I will eventually teach, probably later on when I’m ready to actually sit down and chill out for a while,” Carter said. “I don’t necessarily know exactly what it would be that I would teach. It’ll definitely be photography, but I think maybe the intersection of blackness, photography, gender, things like that. I think that would be really interesting.”

To stay up to date on all of Carter’s new projects, you can follow her on her Instagram @internetbby