The Self Portrait:

Carlton Davis


In the second installment of a new series where we commission artists to document their own environments, we ask, ‘How do you see yourself and your space?’

There is little doubt that Carlton Davis shoots straight from his heart. His acclaimed still life work can be seen in ad campaigns from Tiffany to Vera Wang as well as in exquisite editorial spreads in Vogue and Town & Country.

He started out exploring the craft of photography for his high school yearbook and by working at the local one-hour photo lab in Hartford, Connecticut, where he grew up. In this stunning self-portrait series we can see his breath, the one he re-discovered after moving to the the countryside.

 And there is more to look forward to; we are honored to have Carlton capturing one of our main features for Issue 6, launching in May.

Photos by Carlton Davis

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What is your idea of perfect happiness? I don’t believe in perfection… and by defining something, it limits its possibilities. That said, hanging poolside with my family on a clear summer day is pretty amazing.

What is your greatest fear? When I truly examine most of my fears, they usually lead to death’s inevitability and the unknown that is on the other side of it.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Hair Loss.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Close mindedness and the lack of desire to open it up. Life is full of possibilities.

Which living person do you most admire? Grandma, and Aunt Annie Mae, who have experienced more in 98 years than I can imagine.

What is your greatest extravagance? At the moment, collecting tea and tea related items are probably my greatest extravagance.

What is your current state of mind? Introspective, because I’m answering these questions.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Truth, which is a matter of perspective.

On what occasion do you lie? When asked, “How’s it going?”

What do you most dislike about your appearance? The fact that I now have hair growing in places that I don’t want it to grow.

Which living person do you most despise? There isn’t a person that I despise but there are a lot of people whose ideas I despise.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Courage.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? The ability to give birth, and courage.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “You Know?” I guess that I’m concerned with being misunderstood. You know?

What or who is the greatest love of your life? It’s unrealistic for me to compare the love I’ve experienced as a father, husband, son, brother or friend and say that one is greater than the other.


When and where were you happiest? In the distant past: in my mother’s arms. The past: sharing a sunrise in the Adirondacks, hand in hand with my wife. Currently: holding my two daughters in my arms. The future…

Which talent would you most like to have? A beautiful singing voice.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? While continuing to question myself, I wouldn’t mind letting go of self-doubt.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Fatherhood.

If you were to die and then come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?  I don’t know.

Where would you most like to live? Where I feel most at home.

What is your most treasured possession? My experiences.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Violation.


What is your favorite occupation? Living.

What is your most marked characteristic? My beautiful brown skin.

What do you most value in your friends? Love.

Who are your favorite artists? James Baldwin, Francis Bacon, Miles Davis and Women who have given birth. Not in that order.

Who is your hero of fiction? Gautama Buddha, Jesus Of Nazareth, Muhammad, Abraham, Lao Tzu and Brahman.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Anyone from Mother Theresa to Hitler, it depends on the day and my mood.

Who are your heroes in real life? There are too many to list.

What is it that you most dislike? Dill. There’s little worse than fulfilling the anticipated desire of the first bite into a warm Tuna Melt only to be assaulted by the undesirable and distinct flavor of dill :-(

What is your greatest regret? That I didn’t do what I should have when I had the opportunity.

How would you like to die? Loved.

What is your motto? Try to learn from and appreciate whatever crosses your path and if you cannot, let it go.