capturing the zeitgeist with photographer frances carter

One of New Zealand photography’s freshest talents knows the importance of nudity and surprising yourself.

by Sarah Gooding
24 November 2014, 5:40am

Photography Francis Carter

Despite being only 21-years-old Frances Carter has become an integral part of New Zealand's fashion and art community. Since starting out snapping bands, the photographer and video maker has developed a keen eye for capturing New Zealand's creative zeitgeist. Her knack for recording movement and moments at shows and parties saw her photos quickly become as vital as the bands and people she was photographing.

Since broadening her output, she has become a go-to fashion and portrait photographer for New Zealand's beloved Black magazine. Frances' photos have also appeared on and in Remix and Nylon magazine; she's also a frequent collaborator with brands like Nymphets and Miss Crabb.

After making a big mark in a short time at home, she's moving to New York to see what's next and experience loneliness in the most romantic way possible.

Do you prefer to work with people you have a personal connection with?
It depends on what kind of pictures I'm taking, but I think being photographed can be a pretty invasive experience, so I want to know that whoever I'm shooting trusts me to represent them truthfully.

What makes someone an ideal subject?
Anybody that looks in a photograph the way they look to my eyes.

You tend to photograph people with really distinctive styles—Rose Thomas of Nymphets and Thistle Brown, for example. How important is it to you to document individuals pushing for a different look?
It's crucial. History is made on the fringes. And people are going to need photos for their history books in fifty years!

It seems like there's a really engaged creative community in Auckland. Is it a special time for the city?
Absolutely. There have been a lot of collaborative projects happening recently and people seem to trust each other to make beautiful things happen. I think that's down to the creative spaces that are active at the moment—such as Yes Collective, Fuzzy Vibes and Audio Foundation—and the extremely hardworking people that keep them going. It feels really inclusive.

Gig and fashion photography are often very distinctive, how did you move from music to shooting for Black magazine?
Basically, I was there and they took a chance on me. Black is an institution and I'm a bit of a young gun. It's pretty crazy having work published alongside the big kids. It's a simultaneous reminder of how far I've come and how far there is to go before I'm satisfied.

You've said that one of your favourite photographs was the nude portrait of two girls that was part of a recent group exhibition at 203H gallery. Why is that shot so special to you?
Happy naked women are a little revolution all by themselves, and I'm so pleased my friends are cool with me taking pictures of them dancing around with their kits off. PS #freethenipple.

You're very good at capturing movement, whether it's on a stage or in a photo of a friend. Is there work behind a natural photo?
I think as soon as you understand the mechanics of a camera and how to make pictures look any way you want them to look, you go back to wanting to be surprised by the process again. Movement is one way to do that; the shutter can move faster than your eyes and catch things you didn't plan for—like the decisive moment. Photographing things that don't move is a nightmare for me - too much pressure.

Speaking of movement, you're moving to New York! What made you decide to do that?
I drank too much coffee on a Monday evening and couldn't sleep, had a big crisis, and thought I'd better take the chance. 

What are you most looking forward to about living and working there?
Feeling tiny and sad. It's going to be so romantic.


Text Sarah Gooding
Photography Frances Carter

francis carter