Kennedi Carter better known as Internet Bby and I recently caught up to talk everything from how she fell in love with photography, being a woman in the male dominated field, social media giving photographers and fellow creatives a platform to be seen, advice on standing out, having her work appreciated inside and outside of North Carolina, and more. Check out what this queen and I got to discuss in our latest interview below:
EB: Hey Kennedi! How are you ?
Internet Bby: I’m good!How about you?
EB: I’m great ! So first and foremost I wanna ask you, where did the name “Internet Bby” come from?
IB: I kind of.. it’s weird I made it in like the 8th grade. There was like a whole Tumblr fad, I don’t know if you remember the cyber aesthetic but the internet was really cute and “bby ” was cute so I was like okay and then I just decided not to change it.
EB: I feel that ! So In 3 words, who is Internet Bby or who is Kennedi Carter rather ?
IB: Um… i dont know. I’m still figuring that out I think. Really, I just take pictures and I like making stuff.
EB: When did you fall in love with photography?
Um I started back in high school and my teacher had this photography class and of course we had to learn it so I ended up liking it a lot so I kind of been doing it since then.
EB: That’s dope ! So where are you from ? Are you from Durham ?
IB: Yeah !
EB: Wow so how’s it been for you to grow up within the NC scene and find your passion? I feel like most of your photography has taken place in NC but people probably wouldn’t assume that.
IB: I think it’s interesting because I’m trying to figure out how to navigate the art scene here. I feel like…out here I kind of know the people that I have to know to get my work outside of North Carolina as well as have it reside here. I also feel like I can get bored because I’m surrounded by quiet people and places so having to work with the same people ,who are even though are great, sometimes it can be like .. what can i do next with what I have ? So.. it can be frustrating sometimes especially when I want to go explore and work with new people and find new places. So i don’t know, it gets the job done but I’m ready to get out.
EB: Where else would you be willing to explore? Would you want to go to LA or just a different scene?
IB: Yeah, I travel a lot. I went to LA and actually I’m about to move from North Carolina to Indiana so I’ve kind of been exploring different places. I went to New York, I hate New York. People can just be really flaky. It’s like when I first went up to NY, I hit up people to work and then they flaked on me. Then when I started doing more stuff and then they tried to work with me and stuff so i don’t know.. I just didn’t like that energy. When I went to LA, the people didn’t even know my work like that and they didn’t know me but they were very open to working so it was fun.
EB: People can really have their ways so I definitely get that! I like New York but i get what you mean on a professional level.
IB: I understand the not taking it personal aspect but it’s hard not to take it seriously when people cancel 10 minutes before so.. yeah it was just overwhelming but I’m going back in June so we’ll see!
EB: So moving forth, what inspires you as a photographer ? I feel like I’ve never seen a bad picture from you. All of your photography is just bomb and captures a concept and aesthetic that is gravitating for a lot of people so where does your inspo come from?
IB: I feel like other work inspires my photography like Deanna Lawson. I feel like that’s why i gravitate toward coupling but she does a lot of beautiful work capturing that and Caravaggio and the storytelling in their work that I try to incorporate that in my work as well. Sometimes it’s music and especially books. I remember when I was a kid and my mom had a book-shelf and she wouldn’t let me touch it because she had the freaky books on her bookshelf but i’d read them anyway. Even now, I’ll reread a book and try to recreate their intimate scenes or warm feelings from it. Those are just some of the things that give me inspo.
EB: You’re somewhat capturing everyday normal black experiences and making it into art in a sense but in a more polished way. It’s like watching a Solange video and being like a “wow i never thought of this kind of concept” without youhaving to say much .
IB: Well thank you !
EB: Yeah, no problem ! One thing I definitely have to ask because it seems like everyone is trying to do something creative and do whatever the cool thing is to do like be a rapper, director, writer, or photographer…do you feel like social media has allowed the photography lane to become saturated or do you think its more of a good thing that the internet is bringing photographers opportunity & a presence/platform to be recognized?
IB: I feel like it’s both. I feel like as long as people keep working and putting in the effort and energy into making the best product they can make , that work will find some way to stand out. I think the cool thing about the internet is that so many people have access to it and that there’s something for everybody. I feel like the interesting thing about photography and doing anything creative is at times it can feel as though you’re trapped in a room with a whole bunch of people screaming at the top of their lungs ,but you have to find a way to standout even though ya’ll are all screaming together. I think the interesting thing about pushing yourself and finding a way to standout is figuring out what your style is and what sets you apart. I think the internet has helped me get the opportunities I’ve been given. In the 60s or even 90s,you had to be in a big city. Before even the 2000s, NC was country as hell and no one was doing anything. Now people are just becoming more creative and creating spaces to express themselves in their communities so it’s like okay , even though something can seem saturated, you can set yourself part through that. All in all, I think it’s been pretty dope.
EB: I feel that. I think in anything, something is always going to be inevitably populated like being a lawyer or doctor but like you said, if you do what you’re supposed to do and stand out, you can be just as successful. Is there something or anything about being a woman who’s a photographer that people or professionals have tried to challenge just within your experience ?
IB: Hell yeah ! I was just talking to my friend who’s actually my cousin about this. I’m just tired of situations where n*ggas talking down on you or trying to sh*t on you like you don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s just the most annoying thing ever and I say to my friends all the time that is the reason why I could never date a male photographer. Just photography in general is not a women dominated industry, it’s a whole bunch of white n*ggas who don’t want to give opportunities to anyone else. You just have to find spaces where you are appreciated. There’s different collectives that I know of where they do a lot of work discussing the importance of black image within the photography field so there are spaces for you to express that frustration but yeah..men can be very annoying in this industry but if you thug it out, you’ll be alright.
EB: Love that advice. Are there any fellow photographers that are women or men that you personally admire at this moment?
IB: Definitely Tyler Mitchell! Def gotta credit him to Jesus. Dana Scruggs, she is not just the first black woman but the first black person ever to shoot a Rolling Stones cover. I’m friends with her and whenever I need advice, I go to her about it. Also, a friend of mine named Melissa Alcena , she is based out of the Bahamas, has beautiful work and who I plan on visiting this summer . I mentioned before, DeAnna Lawson, she has beautiful and intimate photography of black people. Also Carrie Maw Weems, Renell Medrano, and Artemisia Gentileschi. Then lastly, this woman who is a huge matriarchal figure,Debra Woods. She writes a lot about black people and photography. Those are all the people I admire at the moment.
EB: You’ve worked with Social Status , the Photo Vogue Festival,Vogue Italia, High Snobiety, Complex, Durham Magazine, and you even got to shoot SZA recently at Dreamville Fest. What do you feel like your most proud of within your own work?
IB: I think what I’m working towards now lowkey and what I have on my roster right now. I think the things that I did over this last year has opened up more opportunities that are coming up now which I’m really excited about. I feel like maybe the Vogue Italia thing because I got the email and I was like woah and I got to bring my mom with me ! I think probably that but something that I learned from all of this is that people are always watching you and that’ll always lead to more things.
EB: Definitely facts ! I think in NC, we’ve been trying to get the attention we wanted as a creative scene and now that its just kind of now happening and the fact that you are from Durham and getting placements like these is pretty legendary and can give a lot of people hope.
IB: I feel like my main driving force is to not keep my work in Carolina but I think finding ways to get work out of here and still have it appreciated here which has definitely been dope !
EB: So what’s next for Kennedi Carter?
IB: Umm I have an exhibition coming up in February so that’s a thing. I have a couple campaigns coming up which is dope because I’ve never done one before so I think that’s going to be dope. I’m also in the process of trying to work with a couple of artists . I try to steer away from working with big people sometimes but there’s a couple people on my photo bucket list that I have to shoot so those are some of my main things so yeah.
EB: Sounds like you are legit booked and busy and I’m definitely loving it! Thanks so much for hopping on this interview with me. I’ve been peeped your work and I was like… I just have to interview this girl! There’s you , esquisite eye, and Nailah or Cloud Naii that I always pay close attention to so thank you for this !
IB: Thanks a lot !