Black photographers Kennedi Carter and Andre Wagner have teamed up with Google Creator Labs to release exclusive photos as part of the company’s third series of art creations.
The partnership allowed for the artists to explore a diverse range of subject matter. What’s more, the photos draw from the photographers’ own experiences in life and art.
“We have been blown away by the amazing work that Kennedi and our other artists have created using Google Pixel,” said Ava Donaldson and Steven Chaiken, co-founders of Google Creator Labs, in an exclusive statement. “Our devices have been able to capture each individual’s unique point of view about cultural narratives that matter deeply to them. This is really why we made Creator Labs – to empower photographers, directors, and YouTuber creators to share the world through their lens.”
For Carter, this meant photographing BIPOC cowboys for the Google Creator Labs. More than just a Lil Nas X cosplay, BIPOC cowboys have been an integral part of the history of the American West, and are still an integral part of the South’s farm society today.
And that, said Carter, is where she drew her inspiration.
“The south is where I’ve grown up all my life,” she told Essence Magazine. “I’m just photographing things that I am familiar with.”
New York City-based street photographer Andre Wagner, however, had a completely different muse. Prior to the pandemic, Wagner’s work made its way to the pages of Vogue Magazine. Since the pandemic restricted his movements, however, he turned the camera — and his musings — inward.
“I turned the camera on myself more than I normally would,” he told VMan. “Looking back and slowing down helps me build a vision for the future.”
Since making its debut a year ago, the Google Creator Labs — a partnership between Google and LENS — has not only helped break new artistic voices, but has helped push important cultural narratives. Whereas photography, in particular, was once the preferred medium of white male dilettantes, the tech giant’s program has now helped women, Black men, and other previously marginalized groups get their art featured, their voices heard, and most importantly — their work purchased.
“The ten artists participating in Creator Labs were chosen for their ability to author distinct, concentrated visual essays from sincere, personal points of view,” the program’s mission statement reads. “Their stories illuminate under-celebrated figures, widen narrow definitions, and interrogate human nature to discover new truths. By initiating Creator Labs and bringing attention to the careers of these creators, Google hopes to aid in their continued creation of authentic work.”