From candid to conceptual and staged, editorial and documentary and from intimate to glamorous, from timeless to fashion, photographer Carlos “Kaito” Araujo works with some of pop culture’s most intriguing icons. The photographer and filmmaker arrived in Los Angeles at the age of 19 to work with Sean Combs as a director and photographer for his company. Now 23, Kaito has already left an indelible mark in the portrayal of celebrities in film, music and beyond. Watch her September Vanity Fair cover with Combs – it will definitely be an instant classic.
When did you first know you were an artist?
I first knew I was an artist when I was in high school. I would go out to explore the city and capture different scenes that stood out and told me a story. I turned more to the idea of photojournalism because of that. It was there that I knew I had an eye for photography and it was my way of expressing my artistic side.
What’s your short answer to people who ask you what your job is?
My work is about storytelling, especially for future generations. Every photo has a story behind it. Some stories you might hear or know, and others may never be told and are just left for interpretation.
What would you do if you weren’t an artist?
If I weren’t an artist, I would probably be some kind of entrepreneur. I remember being a young child, at the age of five, still working with my family in Cape Verde. I could not wait to wash cars or work at the store with my dad to make some money.
Did you go to art school? Why why not?
I went to the New England School of Photography for a short time. It was a two year program, but right before I started classes I had the opportunity to work with a music artist in LA. I took this opportunity and ended up moving to LA full time so I couldn’t complete the program.
Why do you live and work in LA, and not elsewhere?
I mainly live and work in LA as my main client, who I have worked with for four years, is based here. There are also so many great opportunities here, so for me being accessible and close helps me a lot. I will say, however, that I recently went to Paris and saw myself living there or even New York.
What was your most recent project?
My most recent project was to photograph Sean Combs for Vanity FairSeptember 2021 cover. It was a surreal moment, and I have always admired photographers taking their covers. I put pressure on myself to make sure that the vision we all had was executed well and that the intention of each image was pure. Everyone involved – my team, the Vanity Fair staff and Sean Combs – brought the vision to life.
Which artist, living or dead, would you most like to work with?
I would love to collaborate with The Weeknd. His music is so abstract and different; it just gives me a feeling that is inexplicable.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I listen to music while working. If I’m on set my playlist will be ready with all kinds of different vibes, mostly hip-hop. But if I work from home, I will most likely play Marvin Sapp, Kirk Franklin, or R&B.
Website and social networks: