Anissa Baty, better known as Niss, is one of the most talented photographers in Atlanta that specializes in film and lifestyle photography. Niss dreamy portraiture has always focused heavily on the female experience. Whether she’s calling out body-based clichés or capturing the women she surrounds herself with, the talented photographer offers a fresh perspective on contemporary womanhood and Black culture. “For me, good art is art that evokes thought and emotion,” she emphasizes.
Keeping within the same vein as her previous photography, Baty’s approach to photography captures nostalgic and joyful moments that bring out emotion through lighting and composition. She puts her work on full display through works like Tangerine Dream and Air Max Day: For The Mamas, two well-curated series that capture love in the purest forms: art.
For our latest Behind The Lens interview, we had the wonderful opportunity of talking with Niss in regards to dream collabs, her Atlanta upbringing, and her portfolio to name a few topics! Check it out below.
Hey Niss! So, first question: what’s it like being a photographer based in Atlanta? Do you find it pretty competitive and is it fairly easy to draw inspiration?
Being a photographer based in Atlanta has been a great stepping stone for me. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve made a name for myself here with what I do and I love that the most. When it comes to inspiration, I keep my mind open to be inspired by any and everything around me no matter where I am. I don’t think it’s fair to look at others as competition. We’re all out here doing our best. Just like in any other major city, most photographers have their own lane and style. I like to stay in my lane. If I’m competing with anyone, it’s myself.
How did your upbringing help form your unique approach to photography?
I was always a very shy kid. I never wanted to be in the spotlight, but I still wanted memorable experiences. Once I got to high school and picked up a camera, I was less shy and a little more sociable. I took pictures of everyone around the school. That sparked my love of just capturing people in the moment. The shots not having to be posed, people just able to be who they are. It just felt more genuine. That’s my approach, always. I shoot events and clients with the same mindset. Those make for the best photos.
What inspired you to start using the art of photography to uplift and celebrate those in front of your lens?
As a kid, I was very self-conscious. I didn’t have all this confidence that I have now. I still struggle with it from time to time. So I shoot those who exude that undeniable confidence. I, also, shoot to help others gain that confidence. When they see themselves on camera, it not only reassures them but myself as well. When I finish a shoot and see the results, it’s always an indication that I’m doing the right thing. I’ve gotten in front of the camera before and I can understand how it feels to be so vulnerable, yet still own and accept who you are. It’s all such a beautiful and fulfilling process.
Tell us about your recent series Air Max Day: For The Mamas and what it means to you?
Initially, I started my Air Max Day series as a fun and spontaneous personal project. The initial shoot came out so well that I wanted to keep it going and challenge myself to do something different each year. Air Max Day also falls in Women’s History month, so I figured why not highlight the women this time around? Then I decided to highlight mothers, specifically.
For all the work and selflessness mothers provide, they can never get enough appreciation. I just wanted to give them their flowers and show my gratitude for them staying ten toes down in Motherhood and being fly while doing it. It got way more love than I thought it would and I’m just grateful people love it as much as I do.
Elsewhere you have a series called Crown, what prompted you to title it that, and how important was it for you to capture it?
Crown series is something I wanted to capture to represent myself and some of the things I love about being a black woman. Those photos highlight my admiration for my glowing brown skin. My thick and full head of hair. The gold that adorns my skin. My nails that have been a canvas for us for decades. Highlighting us and our euphoric aura is always going to be at the forefront of my work.
How important is it for your art to be viewed or used as a conversational tool?
I believe art is subjective. For me, good art is art that evokes thought and emotion. All I ever wanted was for my work to make one person feel something. The fact that this interview is even happening means I’ve met my goal.
Before we let you go, what does your dream collaboration or shoot look like?
I would love to know what it feels like to work with Beyonce and Frank Ocean. To work on a campaign, could be an interview spread or cover, or capturing BTS or lifestyle. I really admire the two of them from an artist’s perspective and just them as people. I’m sure that would be an amazing experience for me.
If you enjoyed our interview with Niss, check out our chat with photographer Kai Tsehay!