Zeitgeist: Micaiah Carter

Each year the CR editorial team pick a number of photographers who have had a breakthrough year for our Zeitgeist series. Micaiah Carter’s work mixes 70s vibes with influences from the 90s. This year has seen him work with everyone from Nike to Vogue to Pharrell

Micaiah Carter’s ongoing personal project 95/48 holds many of the answers to who he is as a photographer. The numbers denote the birth years of Carter and his father, who is the central influence on his creative work. The project, which he hopes will eventually manifest as a book, takes stylised images of his father from the 70s and juxtaposes them with photographs from Carter’s archive. “I wanted to create a language that talks about our experiences being black men in America at the same age, but in different decades,” he tells me. “The whole ‘black is beautiful’ movement is happening again today in its own right. This is not a trend; these are ­people’s lives.” From the outset, Carter is clear about his intentions as an image-maker. “I want my photography to be a quality platform for ­representation of people of colour that hasn’t been seen before.”

The 70s influence runs deep in Carter’s work: enriched by warm tones, his photographs emanate a powerful hybrid of joy and resilience, echoing the energy of his father’s scrapbook portraits. He blends this with further influences from the 90s and early 2000s. The music videos of the era ­continue to inspire him, running the gamut of everyone from Run DMC to Toni Braxton, as well as the futuristic work of ­renowned director Hype Williams. This mash-up of references culminates in a unique creative vision. It’s bold, graphic and playful while still feeling authentic to the subject – an aesthetic that can flex to accommodate a vari­ety of intentions, from fine art to commercial.

Top: Alvin Ailey Tribute for Out magazine; Above: Playboi Carti shot for the Fader