A Brief History Of Jay Z's Career As Beyoncé's Private Photographer

When Jay Z isn’t moonlighting as a rapper, he has a permanent residency as the world’s most sought-after Instagram Husband.

Shawn Carter has been dropping hints about his side hustle for years. “When I was talking Instagram / Last thing you wanted was your picture snapped,” he explained in Magna Carta Holy Grail’s “Somewhere In America.”

Indeed: Somewhere in America, Jay Z is dutifully fulfilling his role as Beyoncé’s private photographer. It’s a pretty lucrative gig.

It's also a thankless job. There’s no wall in the MoMA dedicated to the art of documenting Beyoncé's most candid moments. They don’t give out VMAs for impromptu at home music videos. Jay is too humble to ever bring attention to his slept-on works of art, but I’m going dive deep into their history of photographer-muse #relationshipgoals.

So here it is: An unauthorized history of Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Instagram’s unsung hero.

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This is the earliest documented evidence of Jay Z as Beyoncé's private photographer. Before a 2013 performance on American Idol, Mr. Carter filmed Beyoncé's backstage rehearsal.

You can see the early efforts of a budding Cassavetes: Jay is obsessed with realism and authenticity, capturing what really goes on behind the scenes. Backed up with a keyboard and and her three singers, here we get to experience Beyoncé's real, raw voice.
In honor of the Carters' seventh wedding anniversary (the pair were married in 2008), Beyoncé released a special Tidal-exclusive song and video.

The hook on this stripped down song — written by Kirby Lauryen — is beautiful. "Cause darling I wake up just to sleep with you / I open my eyes so I could see with you / And I live so I can die with you," Bey sings as she plays piano.

And oh — who's that behind the lens? None other than Jay Z himself, displaying some casual fly-on-the-wall documentary filmmaking skills.
Photo: Instagram/@beylite.
On a trip to Italy in summer 2015, Jay Z shows his client-muse-wife his hardware dexterity. His skills are beyond #iphoneonly.
Photo: Instagram/@beylite.
Just a photo of Jay Z, a man who is apparently very unimpressed by a novice photographer's Instagram handiwork. Being an Instagram Husband is a grown man's game.
Photo: Instagram/@beylite.
Jay Z has called Beyoncé the greatest living performer. He has not called her the greatest living Instagrammer. Could he be double checking their shared photo album or sifting through the chaos of an uncurated feed?
Photo: Instagram/@beylite.
At a Milk L.A. party in June 2015, Jay Z snapped a candid. He'll edit it later.
Photo: Instagram/@beylite.
Courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game in January 2013, Jay shows off his latest shot. Look at the slight grin and concentration. Is he choosing a filter? Deciding on a crop? This isn't childs' play.
This "Hell Of A Life" interlude played during Beyoncé and Jay Z's On The Run Tour. Although Jay is a successful rapper, the extent of his acting career pretty much begins and ends with the short films created to promote and accompany this tour.

The segment shows Jay Z in his element: Music, yes, but also fulfilling his duties as Bey's private videographer.
Photo: Instagram/@beylite.
Beyoncé is taking a very fine photo, I'm sure. Even a private photographer is asked to model now and then.
Photo: Instagram/@beylite.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and every single one of those words should be dedicated to Jay Z's graceful back arche. No tripod? No problem. Elevator door about to close? Even better. This is an action shot, and Hov can always deliver.
Photo: Instagram/@beylite.
Shawn Carter doesn't play around with his money, and he doesn't play around with his profession.

When a fan got a little too comfortable, Jay had to snatch him back with a steady hand. You can't just expect to photograph Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter without an extensive application process, including a portfolio and at least a documented understanding of the art of lighting for Black skin. Sir, please move along.
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