Mrs. Carrington and former Yates High School Student Kaylon Beck poses with Ray Carrington during Through A Cultural Lens Honoring Ray Carrington III held at Theory Studios on June 17, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jimmie Aggison/Houston Defender)

Jake Yates High School photography teacher Ray Carrington III is saying farewell to his old stomping ground.

He recently announced his retirement with 2021-2022 school year being his last year in the program.

For the last 28 years, Carrington has been a strong pillar, mentor, father figure, and educator for many students and families in the community. He created opportunities for students to learn the art of photography along with the rich history and culture of Black Houston.  

Beck&Call Hospitality in partnership with Gold Was Made Fa Her hosted an event honoring Carrington at Theory Studios.

“I’m really kind of shocked. I’ve been in the business for a long time… since 1968, and even though I’ve had some accomplishments, not to this level where the people I care about…make it to the next level. They stop to give me something [flowers],” said Carrington. “I’ve been blessed over the years to have seen and dealt with students who are just phenomenal.”

Carrington shared the spotlight alongside Earlie Hudnall, Jr., a celebrated photographer best known for his gripping pictures highlighting the overlooked aesthetics of daily life in Black communities in the south. Hudnall and Carrington met at Texas Southern University as students in 1970. Carrington was the senior editor of the school yearbook. He was a history major at the time and knew nothing about photography. He heard of Hudnall who was a novice photographer in the art department and spoke to him about shooting for the yearbook. That was the beginning their long-lasting friendship.

“I feel that they [Jake Yates High School] will miss the kind of discipline and the kind of tutelage that he brought with the students especially in photography”, said Hudnall. “Ray will still be involved with the community, and I think the students [who] he has tutored over the years will still carry that foundation into different parts of the community. Ray will forever be a part of this community especially the Third Ward.” 

Since 1995, Carrington has partnered with the Museum of Fine Arts for the Eye on Third Ward annual Exhibition showcased photographs by students in the Magnet School of Communications. His photography classes focuses on Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood, a historically Black community with strong ties to many cultural, political, religious and educational organizations. He challenges his student to be the historians of the community.

“I tried to inspire my students not with a professional job… but with the fact that you are capturing history, he said.” “You may be the only one who captures the history. It’s a historical value to the people who are here.”

His impact in the community brought out many students both former and current and family members who expressed their favorite memories of him.

“Mr. Carrington is special to me because of the way he embraces his students and arts in the community. He always encourages us to capture great images of the Third Ward community,” said Kaylon Beck, former photography student. “We used to walk every day in class around the area. It was moments like that helped us embrace and realize what culture and what neighborhood we were uplifting.”

“The thing that Jake Yates will miss when Ray Carrington retires is the ability to relate to the students, said former student Chataria Geason. “The ability to meet us where we were… and bring us where we need to be. The preparation that he gave us in order to be successful, the long days he had us walking through Third Ward where he would stop and point and tell us to tell him what an image mean to us.”

Bria Lauren, a former Jake Yates High School student didn’t take Carrington’s class, but felt it was important to show up for those who have paved the way for generations to come, especially during the month of Juneteenth.

“We can’t celebrate Juneteenth without thinking of the forefathers and those who came before us, she said. “So when I think of Mr. Ray Carrington and Earlie Hudnall, they’ve not only been photographers that have paved the way for artists like myself, but really have been pillars and visionaries and leaders in our community.”

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...