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Betty Press
Betty Press
Betty Press

Betty Press

Country: United States

Betty Press is a documentary fine art photographer, well-known for photographs taken in Africa where she lived and traveled for many years. Now living in Mississippi she has just completed a project called “Finding Mississippi” recording "real life" in small communities throughout Mississippi with black-and-white film and toy and vintage cameras. She taught photography at University of Southern Mississippi from 2003 to 2015. She is twice the recipient of a Visual Artist Grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Her photographs have been widely-exhibited as well as selected for many juried competitions. In addition, her photographs have been featured in publications such as Shots, Silvershotz, South x Southeast, Lenscratch, ACurator, RfotoFolio, and Don't Take Pictures. Her work is held in a number of public collections including Beinecke Library at Yale University, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, The Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities, The University of Texas, Austin, Mississippi Museum of Art and The Do Good Fund of Southern Photography.

In 2011 Betty published a photobook I Am Because We Are: African Wisdom in Image and Proverb that portrayed a stunning, life-affirming portrait of the African people and culture. For this book she received a statewide award in photography, from the Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters and was selected for Critical Mass Top 50. Her other books/zines include La Dolce Vista, Hub City Impressions and Finding Mississippi.

In August 2019 she moved to Nairobi, Kenya to photograph urban culture and social injustice, but returned to the USA in April 2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Her most recent project They Were Us: Stories of Victims and Survivors of Police Brutality in Kenya, was selected for Photo Lucida Critical Mass Top 50.

Betty was invited by Lenscratch to curate the States Project for Mississippi. She also helped bring the Do Good Fund Exhibition of southern fine art photography to USM Art Gallery and organized several simultaneous local exhibitions. Most recently, she co-curated an online show Virtual Photography 20:20 for One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya.

She is represented by Panos Pictures, London; International Visions, Washington, DC; Fischer Galleries, Jackson, Mississippi; Treehouse Gallery, Oxford, Mississippi and One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya.

As a former educator, journalist, and avid traveler Press brings a wide-ranging perspective and appreciation of diverse photographic styles, genres and mediums.

Services Offered: The African Urban landscape
Eye-catching, colorful and hand-painted! Popular creative signage, found on small shops started by mostly young entrepreneurs, livens up what would otherwise be a drab environment in the poorer, densely-populated areas of third world cities like Freetown, Nairobi, or Monrovia.

Services, such as hairdressing, tailoring, phone charging, food stalls and video games are advertised. The designs, drawn from traditional as well as contemporary pop culture, are bold, simple and use primary colors and funky fonts. The sign painters are mostly young and self-taught. With more mobile smart-phone usage the signage reflects the modern world on an African canvas.

I have spent more than 15 years living in various African countries. In 2019 I moved back to Kenya. My main focus was to document the social justice movement in Nairobi's urban settlements (formerly called slums), resulting in They Were Us: Stories of Police Brutality in Kenya which was selected for the 2020 Photo Lucida Critical Mass Top 50. On the side I would stop to photograph the colorful shops which I found so artful, refreshing and safer to photograph.

Now back home in Mississippi, after being evacuated from Nairobi due to the pandemic, I continue working on my Mississippi projects which deal with how place, race and religion have played a part in the complicated history of the state and still affect black lives today.
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Lara Wilde
Germany
1988
Lara Wilde dances in her projects between the themes of raw human emotions and the complexity of the outside world. As a photographer and psychologist she is interested in what moves us as humanity on an individual level. Besides an intensive involvement with her protagonists, she stands for technical perfection in the execution, which has earned her several awards. Since 2016 Wilde is working as a fine art photographer and creative director. Statement A few years ago I moved from a Norwegian village back to Berlin to study photography. What I didn't know back then is that you unlearn being a city person when you are gone long enough. I really thought I would die in the anonymous streets of the city I once loved so much. As you know, when we are determined to solve a problem, we go deeper into it. So I wanted to meet strangers and see how they feel outside of their awesome social herds. A lot of nights I now invited myself to other peoples houses, men and women, all strangers, drinking coffee and photographing them in the process. I shot them in longterm exposures, first, because I didn't want to bring a lot of equipment, but later I enjoyed the slow process, sitting there in darkness and waiting for the picture to come through. For some people, it was torture sitting around in the darkness, confronted with their thoughts without their smartphones, friends or busy surroundings. For me they looked like something was missing when they were just sitting by themselves. It felt really personal watching them trying to get comfortable in this inputless scene, to see them struggle, or to see them think and sometimes sharing the feelings that were coming forward. All these conversations with strangers, waiting around in the dark, gave me a feeling of togetherness, becoming a tiny particles of their lives and giving them something that they normally didn't have: Stillness. They were so open and thankful for conversations and most of the times we talked about the real shit: About being lonely, about dying, about calling our parents and our first love. All the stories found their way into the pictures and reminded me of everything we talked about. But I personally got my Berlin back. Not at the streets, but at the dark corners of their homes. Everything in their homes told their stories as loud as they did and I had the honor of being part of it for a short period of time. I get you now, Berlin-people: You are kind and giving, but you are afraid of being used. You are interested in others, but don't want to be tangled up in other peoples problems. You want to show yourself, but want to be accepted. And if you like it our not, the people around you want that too.
William Eggleston
United States
1939
William Eggleston was born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Sumner, Mississippi. His father was an engineer and his mother was the daughter of a prominent local judge. As a boy, Eggleston was introverted; he enjoyed playing the piano, drawing, and working with electronics. From an early age, he was also drawn to visual media, and reportedly enjoyed buying postcards and cutting out pictures from magazines. At the age of 15, Eggleston was sent to the Webb School, a boarding establishment. Eggleston later recalled few fond memories of the school, telling a reporter, "It had a kind of Spartan routine to 'build character'. I never knew what that was supposed to mean. It was so callous and dumb. It was the kind of place where it was considered effeminate to like music and painting." Eggleston was unusual among his peers in eschewing the traditional Southern male pursuits of hunting and sports, in favor of artistic pursuits and observation of the world. Nevertheless, Eggleston noted that he never felt like an outsider. "I never had the feeling that I didn't fit in," he told a reporter, "But probably I didn't." Eggleston attended Vanderbilt University for a year, Delta State College for a semester, and the University of Mississippi for about five years, but did not complete any degree. Nonetheless, his interest in photography took root when a friend at Vanderbilt gave Eggleston a Leica camera. He was introduced to abstract expressionism at Ole Miss by visiting painter Tom Young. Eggleston's early photographic efforts were inspired by the work of Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank, and by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's book, The Decisive Moment. Eggleston later recalled that the book was "the first serious book I found, from many awful books...I didn't understand it a bit, and then it sank in, and I realized, my God, this is a great one." First photographing in black-and-white, Eggleston began experimenting with color in 1965 and 1966 after being introduced to the medium by William Christenberry. Color transparency film became his dominant medium in the later 1960s. Eggleston's development as a photographer seems to have taken place in relative isolation from other artists. In an interview, John Szarkowski describes his first encounter with the young Eggleston in 1969 as being "absolutely out of the blue". After reviewing Eggleston's work (which he recalled as a suitcase full of "drugstore" color prints) Szarkowski prevailed upon the Photography Committee of MoMA to buy one of Eggleston's photographs. In 1970, Eggleston's friend William Christenberry introduced him to Walter Hopps, director of Washington, D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery. Hopps later reported being "stunned" by Eggleston's work: "I had never seen anything like it." Eggleston taught at Harvard in 1973 and 1974, and it was during these years that he discovered dye-transfer printing; he was examining the price list of a photographic lab in Chicago when he read about the process. As Eggleston later recalled: "It advertised 'from the cheapest to the ultimate print.' The ultimate print was a dye-transfer. I went straight up there to look and everything I saw was commercial work like pictures of cigarette packs or perfume bottles but the colour saturation and the quality of the ink was overwhelming. I couldn't wait to see what a plain Eggleston picture would look like with the same process. Every photograph I subsequently printed with the process seemed fantastic and each one seemed better than the previous one." The dye-transfer process resulted in some of Eggleston's most striking and famous work, such as his 1973 photograph entitled The Red Ceiling, of which Eggleston said, "The Red Ceiling is so powerful, that in fact I've never seen it reproduced on the page to my satisfaction. When you look at the dye it is like red blood that's wet on the wall.... A little red is usually enough, but to work with an entire red surface was a challenge." At Harvard, Eggleston prepared his first portfolio, entitled 14 Pictures (1974). Eggleston's work was exhibited at MoMA in 1976. Although this was over three decades after MoMa had mounted a solo exhibition of color photographs by Eliot Porter, and a decade after MoMA had exhibited color photographs by Ernst Haas, the tale that the Eggleston exhibition was MoMA's first exhibition of color photography is frequently repeated, and the 1976 show is regarded as a watershed moment in the history of photography, by marking "the acceptance of colour photography by the highest validating institution" (in the words of Mark Holborn). Around the time of his 1976 MoMA exhibition, Eggleston was introduced to Viva, the Andy Warhol "superstar", with whom he began a long relationship. During this period Eggleston became familiar with Andy Warhol's circle, a connection that may have helped foster Eggleston's idea of the "democratic camera", Mark Holborn suggests. Also in the 1970s Eggleston experimented with video, producing several hours of roughly edited footage Eggleston calls Stranded in Canton. Writer Richard Woodward, who has viewed the footage, likens it to a "demented home movie", mixing tender shots of his children at home with shots of drunken parties, public urination and a man biting off a chicken's head before a cheering crowd in New Orleans. Woodward suggests that the film is reflective of Eggleston's "fearless naturalism—a belief that by looking patiently at what others ignore or look away from, interesting things can be seen." Eggleston's published books and portfolios include Los Alamos (completed in 1974, but published much later), William Eggleston's Guide (the catalog of the 1976 MoMa exhibit), the massive Election Eve (1977; a portfolio of photographs taken around Plains, Georgia, the rural seat of Jimmy Carter before the 1976 presidential election), The Morals of Vision (1978), Flowers (1978), Wedgwood Blue (1979), Seven (1979), Troubled Waters (1980), The Louisiana Project (1980), William Eggleston's Graceland (1984; a series of commissioned photographs of Elvis Presley's Graceland, depicting the singer's home as an airless, windowless tomb in custom-made bad taste), The Democratic Forest (1989), Faulkner's Mississippi (1990), and Ancient and Modern(1992). Some of his early series have not been shown until the late 2000s. The Nightclub Portraits (1973), a series of large black-and-white portraits in bars and clubs around Memphis was, for the most part, not shown until 2005. Lost and Found, part of Eggleston's Los Alamos series, is a body of photographs that have remained unseen for decades because until 2008 no one knew that they belonged to Walter Hopps; the works from this series chronicle road trips the artist took with Hopps, leaving from Memphis and traveling as far as the West Coast. Eggleston's Election Eve photographs were not editioned until 2011. Eggleston also worked with filmmakers, photographing the set of John Huston's film Annie (1982) and documenting the making of David Byrne's film True Stories (1986). In 2017 an album of Eggleston's music was released, Musik. It comprises 13 "experimental electronic soundscapes", "often dramatic improvisations on compositions by Bach (his hero) and Haendel as well as his singular takes on a Gilbert and Sullivan tune and the jazz standard On the Street Where You Live." Musik was made entirely on a 1980s Korg synthesiser, and recorded to floppy disks. The 2017 compilation Musik was produced by Tom Lunt, and released on Secretly Canadian. In 2018, Áine O'Dwyer performed the music on a pipe organ at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville. Source: Wikipedia William Eggleston assumes a neutral gaze and creates his art from commonplace subjects: a farmer's muddy Ford truck, a red ceiling in a friend's house, the contents of his own refrigerator. In his work, Eggleston photographs "democratically"--literally photographing the world around him. His large-format prints monumentalize everyday subjects, everything is equally important; every detail deserves attention. A native Southerner raised on a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta, Eggleston has created a singular portrait of his native South since the late 1960s. After discovering photography in the early 1960s, he abandoned a traditional education and instead learned from photographically illustrated books by Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Frank. Although he began his career making black-and-white images, he soon abandoned them to experiment with color technology to record experiences in more sensual and accurate terms at a time when color photography was largely confined to commercial advertising. In 1976 with the support of John Szarkowski, the influential photography historian, critic, and curator, Eggleston mounted "Color Photographs" a now famous exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. William Eggleston's Guide , in which Szarkowski called Eggleston's photographs "perfect," accompanied this groundbreaking one-person show that established his reputation as a pioneer of color photography. His subjects were mundane, everyday, often trivial, so that the real subject was seen to be color itself. These images helped establish Eggleston as one of the first non-commercial photographers working in color and inspired a new generation of photographers, as well as filmmakers. Eggleston has published his work extensively. He continues to live and work in Memphis, and travels considerably for photographic projects. Source: The Getty Museum
Joseph Rafferty
United States
1976
Joseph Rafferty feels most alive when his ideas materialize to visual imagery. Motivated by passion for social justice, drawn to examples of beauty amongst the pain and dysfunction in our culture. Using imagery as a visual tapestry, Joseph weaves visceral experiences that provoke emotion and encourage empathy from others, despite our differences. With a photo-journalistic approach, he clicks candid shots of people in their natural or public environments, capturing the essence of relationships and moments of meaning within a community. Raised among the Redwood trees - served in the United States Military - educated at Art Center College of Design, Joseph Rafferty's work is non-linear and free, yet technical and pointed. Heavily influenced by commissions in editorial photography, Joseph manipulates existing light, utilizing 35mm Small Format, 2 1/4 & 6x7 Medium Format, 4x5 Large Format. His creative process begins with an idea, first explored through sketches, then further developed through literature, current events, locations, props and styling. A large portion of Joseph's time is spent in the preparation phase of the shoot: sculpting necessary props, testing geographical locations, selecting and styling non actors in an effort to convey a specific feeling or idea. In the final media, there is purpose in every detail, each detail a tool in building a landscape of meaning. Currently in production: "Art World Creatures" - documenting North Carolina creatives with experimental surrealism portraiture film stills through Analogue Cameras, utilizing colour neg film.
Oliver Curtis
United Kingdom
1963
Brought up in the Cotswolds, Curtis began his photographic education studying photography at the renowned course at Filton Technical College in Bristol. He went on to study film and television at the London College of Printing and has been balancing work in stills and moving image ever since. Curtis continues to produce stills portraiture for major broadcasters as well as generating his own projects for exhibition and publication. He sites as key influences William Eggleston, Saul Leiter and Paul Graham. He continues to plough a distinctly idiosyncratic path as Director of Photography on feature films as diverse as Clare Kilner's The Wedding Date, Frank Oz's Death At A Funeral and Joanna Hogg's Unrelated as well as experimental gallery-based installations such as Gideon Koppel's Borth. He remains in great demand worldwide shooting commercials for high profile clients such as Pantene, L'Oreal, La Perla, Ferragamo, Palmolive, Rimmel, Coca Cola, Sony, Guinness, Canon and Cadbury's. About Volte-Face: On visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo in 2012, Oliver Curtis turned away and looked back in the direction he had come from. What he saw fascinated him so much that he has since made a point of turning his back on some of world's most photographed monuments and historic sites, looking at their counter-views and forgotten faces. Taken over a period of four years, Volte-face is an invitation to turn around and see a new aspect of the over-photographed sites of the world - to send our gaze elsewhere and to favour the incidental over the monumental... Curtis feels that despite the landmark not being present in the photograph, the images are still suffused with the aura of the construction. The camera lens effectively acts as a nodal point and, by giving the photograph the title of the unseen partner, this duality becomes a virtue. Volte-face will be published by Dewi Lewis featuring an essay by Geoff Dyer: https://www.dewilewis.com/collections/new-titles/products/volte-face The first exhibition of the Volte-face project was held at the Royal Geographical Society in London, Sept 2016. The collection has received a great deal of acclaim worldwide and has featured in the Financial Times Magazine (UK), NPR Radio New Hampshire (USA), Liberation (France) Wired.com and BBC World Update amongst many others.
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