Artist Keith Carter brings his works to Waco

Matt Hellman | Photo Editor
Photographer Keith Carter stands in front of some of his work at Thursday’s lecture in the Martin Museum of Art. Works by Carter, and fellow artist Sedrick Huckaby will be displayed there throughout the semester.

By James Herd

Photographs taken by Keith Carter are nowhere near the typical cliché of bright colors and happy faces, but that is what distinguishes Carter from some modern photographers.

“I loved the 19th century photographs, and a lot of times they [the human subjects] had what I call ‘the look’. The exposures were long, they’d never been photographed and they just sort of stared, and I love that look,” Carter said at a gallery exhibit Thursday.

Carter spoke Thursday at the exhibit, held at the Martin Museum of Art, about photography techniques and other related topics.

The exhibit, which features work by Carter, is called “Fireflies.”

“My favorite printer from many years ago was Paul Strand. He printed – by most people’s standards – very dark,” Carter said. “He would tone them in these strange chemical toners and it gave ‘em a melancholy feel and I thought they were really beautiful and so, today by some people’s standards I print a little darker than others would.”

Carter’s exhibit was named after one of his signature pieces, according to the brochure booklet for the event,

“Fireflies brings us back to the small truths so often pushed aside or forgotten as we become adults,” the description of “Fireflies” states in the brochure.

The photograph depicts two children staring in awe at the jar of fireflies caught in the evening.

Carrollton senior Nikki Rivas attended the event and said Carter has an interesting photography style.

“I think that Keith Carter has so much to offer to the future generation both as artists and non-artists, anybody,” Rivas said. “He is a great speaker and an amazing photographer, but just an amazing person in general. I think that with his style of film photography versus digital photography, in his film photography you can definitely see his layers in his photos, from background to his – I guess, figure-ground relationship.”

In the lecture, Carter said that, while he does use digital photography methods, his roots are in classical photography methods such as the utilization of a dark room.

“My history is film, and I always thought it was kind of romantic, you know, images transmitted by light, I just haven’t made the leap to the romance of digital,” Carter said. “I use it all the time, it’s just kind of a mushy way – in my opinion – to learn photography.”

In Carter’s book, “A Certain Alchemy,” photographer Bill Wittliff said in the introduction, “Whatever you’re looking for is looking for you too,” a phrase he uses to convey Carter’s biography.

Wittliff said this statement is reflected in Carter’s life in many ways.

It inspired him to continue doing what he loves and helped him choose his soul mate.

Carter’s style of photography may be different than most photographers, but the inspiration that he gets from those who have come before him keeps him consistent.