Through His Lens
Carter Carroll is a videographer and documentary film director who makes a living capturing stories through his camera lens.
ARTICLE BY STARLA GATSON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KELLY MOORE CLARK
It wasn’t unusual to find a young Carter Carroll with a book in his hand. He, like many other elementary-aged children, spent his time flipping through the pages of whatever he could find, determined to read the most titles to get the most Accelerated Reader points.
Having a novel in hand so frequently not only helped Carroll reach his AR goals and earn access to the pizza parties reserved for the most dedicated young readers, it also sparked the appreciation for storytelling that fuels him today.
As a videographer and documentary film director, Carroll makes a living capturing stories through his camera lens. The first of these stories, he recalls, was recorded during his adolescent years.
“My dad has always been a really avid hunter,” the lifelong Ruston resident explains, “and when I was young, probably in middle school, he started filming the hunts we would go on. And I was always telling him, ‘You’re doing this wrong. Shoot like this. You should be shooting from this other angle.’”
Recording those father-son hunts was Carroll’s first step into the world of film and media. Step two came soon after, he says, when he joined his church’s media team to help with broadcasts and camera operation. That position made him think it would be fun to make videos of his own, so, during his junior year of high school, he began doing just that. From there, Carroll says, things took off.
After graduation in 2014, Carroll brought his high school hobby with him from Ruston High School to the Louisiana Tech campus. There, he was greeted with even more opportunities to practice his craft.
“I was still doing video in college for fun and to make some pocket change,” he says. “I shot video for several of Ruston High’s sports teams. Then, at the end of my junior year, I started working for the College of Business doing marketing and recruitment videos. My senior year, I started working for Tech’s athletic video department.”
Those two jobs planted the seed in Carroll’s mind: maybe videography was something he could pursue full-time. The way to make that happen, as he explains it, was fairly straightforward. After earning his computer information systems degree, he would pursue a Master of Business Administration degree and start his own video business.
That plan was disrupted, however. The summer before he was set to begin the university’s MBA program, Carroll found himself in a new position within the athletic video department: Assistant Director of Creative and Video Services. This internship put more valuable experience under Carroll’s belt, of course, but it also loaded his plate. So much so that he decided that, to do the work the position required, he would have to step away from his MBA. Carroll’s plan to work as a full-time videographer didn’t come to a screeching halt when he put his graduate degree on the back burner, though. It was only redirected, and unbeknownst to him at the time, his desire to work in media full-time would come to fruition differently.
The wheels were turning in the Louisiana Tech university communications department, and higher-ups were on the hunt for someone to fill the newly-created role of university videographer. It wasn’t long before Carroll’s name was tossed into the ring for the job.
“I went in and had a really great conversation with Tonya Oaks-Smith, and a few weeks later, I started,” he recalls.
That was nearly three years ago, and since then, Carroll’s full-time videography gig has allowed him to “explore video in ways [he] didn’t think [he’d] get a chance to at this age.” More importantly, though, it’s allowed him to do the thing he’s long been passionate about: tell stories.
The majority of the content Carroll produces for Louisiana Tech is used for marketing purposes. However, these videos are about more than just getting prospective Bulldogs to commit to attending the university. They’re about shining a light on the people, events, and programs that may not have been highlighted otherwise.
“A lot of what we do in [the communications office] is try to get students to come and visit,” he explains. “But I also do a lot of things promoting alumni work, our Giving Day campaigns, and promoting what students are doing on campus.”
He has also been responsible for producing the university’s institutional spot — the advertisement that runs on large channels like ESPN, Fox Sports, or wherever else Louisiana Tech events are aired — for the last three years. The first one of these short videos Carroll produced, in fact, was an award-winner; it received bronze in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Accolades competition that year.
“That praise was really awesome for someone who was brand new to it,” Carroll recalls. “It told me I could do what I was doing.”
Perhaps Carroll’s most noteworthy work, though, is the full-length documentary he directed called “Coach: The Leon Barmore Story.” The 84-minute film honoring the life and career of the legendary Lady Techsters basketball coach was released in October 2021 in conjunction with the unveiling of a Leon Barmore statue on campus. Carroll explains that stories like Barmore’s — ones that can impact the viewer in some way — are the ones he’s most interested in telling through his work.
“I think that everyone has a story to tell,” he declares. “We’ve all experienced different things, and being able to share those experiences in a way that could help someone who’s viewing that story means a lot to me.”
That desire to share more impactful stories is why Carroll is so selective of the projects he takes on, especially when he’s freelancing and creating content outside of his role at Louisiana Tech.
A variety of projects are on his résumé, from working on a few short films to filming and directing Louisiana Tech Kappa Delta’s recruitment videos to capturing content for Lola Magazine’s Dream Home. Though the subject matter for his videography gigs has varied, they all share one crucial common factor: they’re capturing stories and concepts Carroll is excited to tell.
“If it’s not something I think is inspiring or is a good story, I’m probably not going to say yes to it, even if the money was right,” he admits. “It’s not about the money to me; it’s about telling a bigger story.”
Meaningful stories can, of course, be found by anyone who seeks them out, but Carroll believes they also have a way of finding the storytellers. Call it fate, kismet, or just pure luck; either way, the stories that need to be told find their way to the person who needs to tell them.
Take the Barmore story, for example. Carroll explains, “That story, it was all there. It was ready. Somebody just needed to take the time to tell it. Sometimes, finding those stories is work. You’ve got to know somebody who knows somebody sometimes. You’ve got to work with the people who have been around to hear and know these stories. But I think that the right stories will find you if you are looking and listening for them.”
That’s the advice Carroll offers aspiring videographers and filmmakers: look and listen for the stories they want to tell. And when they find them, he says, just grab a camera and start recording.
“The only way to learn is to do it,” he says of storytelling through videography. “Video is an art, and just like any other art, you get worse before you get better.”
Just start, Carroll says, and be ready to learn from your mistakes — both the ones you notice in your own work and those critics point out to you.
“Video is one of those mediums where you get a lot of feedback,” he explains. “That’s how you learn what works and what doesn’t work. Get out there and mess up some videos. Then, one day, you’re going to make something and someone’s going to say, ‘Hey, that was really good. Keep doing that.’”
Just keep telling good stories, aspiring videographers, and Carroll will do the same in both his freelance endeavors and in his newest full-time media gig (one he only will have held for about two weeks before this article’s print date) as Tech’s assistant athletic director of broadcasting.
“I hope to bring a certain level of storytelling into that [position],” he says as he eagerly shares his expectations for his new job. “At any given time, there are about 300 student-athletes at Louisiana Tech. Each of them has a story to tell, a perspective on life and the sport they play. Then, think about all the former players, staff and coaches, and former staff and coaches; there are so many stories ready to be told over there. I hope to bring out the best in the people around me and tell student athletes’ stories in the way they deserve to be told.”