“You Know What is Sacred”: Tracee Ellis Ross on the Photographs of Micaiah Carter
On October 3rd, Penguin Random House will publish the debut monograph from Micaiah Carter, titled Micaiah Carter: What’s My Name?Ahead of its release, we bring you exclusive photographs from the book, accompanied by a foreword from Tracee Ellis Ross.
Warm truth and timeless energy inhabit Micaiah’s images. Through his lens we feel the worthiness of Blackness. Through his lens we feel his smile. Through his lens we are invited to be and to belong. I’ve worked with Micaiah Carter many times now, but our friendship started when I chose him to shoot our first ever campaign for my company Pattern Beauty. When I was introduced to his work, it was a no brainer; and when I was introduced to him, the deal was sealed. He helped to create the brand’s visual vocabulary—calling in ancestry and home, legacy and joy, and using our PATTERN yellow as a language in and of itself.
Micaiah is gentle and quiet in spirit but his point of view is filled with power; filled with what I experience as love. He honors all the layers, inviting the background, foreground, color and detail to play their part in a final composition of collaboration and proportion. But the subject is always clear in the frame—never objectified and always honored. Even if the subject is a hairline or eyebrows, you know what is sacred. He invites your eye to the center and quickly and sweetly invites his subjects to meet his gaze.
Micaiah shoots each photograph with the same care one might use to capture a loved one—like an aunt or a niece or a childhood friend, allowing a familiar connection to make each subject feel like family. He creates a space that is less of a set and more of an exchange; kind of like hanging with a friend in their backyard on a sunny day in that peace that comes after all the food has been eaten, the catching up is finished, and you are just there together without an agenda. This is what he captures—the safety of connection, the beauty of being.