Los Angeles-born William Carter graduated from Stanford University in 1957. He became a professional photographer, writer and editor while concurrently pursuing fine art photography.
In New York, Carter worked as a book editor for Harper & Row, 1961-63. Based in Beirut 1964-66, he published in LIFE, the London Sunday Times, Geographical Magazine and others. In 1966-69 he freelanced from London, doing assignments for such clients as The New York Times, Women's Wear Daily, and TWA's Annual Report.
Returning to San Francisco in 1969, Carter turned to longer-term projects. He published his first book of text and pictures, Ghost Towns of the West, in 1971. His second book, Middle West Country, appeared in 1975. Carter's permanent love affair with New Orleans jazz (he plays clarinet in local Bay Area Trad Jazz bands) led him to create his third book of text and photographs, Preservation Hall, in 1991.