Los Angeles-born William Carter graduated from Stanford University in 1957. He became a professional photographer, writer and editor while concurrently pursuing fine art photography. In New York, Carter worked as a book editor for Harper & Row, 1961-63. Based in Beirut 1964-66, he published in LIFE, the London Sunday Times, Geographical Magazine and others. In 1966-69 he freelanced from London, doing assignments for such clients as The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, and TWA’s Annual Report.
Returning to San Francisco in 1969, William Carter turned to longer term projects. He published his first book of text and pictures, Ghost Towns of the West, in 1971. His second book, Middle West Country, appeared in 1975. Carter’s permanent love affair with New Orleans jazz led him to create his third book of text and photographs, Preservation Hall, in 1991. Increasingly absorbed in fine art photography, he began exhibiting in galleries and published Illuminations, a book of nudes, in 1996. Carter’s fifth book, Causes and Spirits, is an autobiographical photo-appreciation of humanity worldwide, published in 2011.
William Carter’s photographs have been widely exhibited in the U.S. and Europe.
More than 150 of his black and white prints are in the permanent collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. A Carter nude was shown in the Getty’s concise 150-year history of that genre in 2007-2008. Four of his Middle Eastern images appeared there in Engaged Observers, a 2010 survey of photojournalism since 1960. In 2012 additional photographs from his Causes and Spirits were acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, others by the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany, and still others (notably the cover image) by the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Selected permanent collections:
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Folkwang Museum, Essen
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
Center for Creative Photography, Arizona
Santa Barbara Museum, California
Cantor Museum, Stanford, California
Fogg Museum, Harvard University
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Rhode Island School of Design
National Museum of Photography, England
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Portland Museum of Art, Oregon
Founding Board Member, Photo Alliance, San Francisco 2001-2004
Board Member, Humanities West, San Francisco 1996-2001
Producer and Presenter, “Lens Culture” for Humanities West, Herbst Theater, San Francisco, 2003; “New Orleans 1900,” 2000; and “Jerusalem” 1998
Conducted Photography Workshops, Germany & California 1994 - 2003
Founding Member, Photographs Council, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2005-present
Chairman, San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation, 1990-present