Portraits in Nature by Bettina Adela

Nothing inspires me more than people; their faces, their stories and their actions.

East London based portrait and documentary photographer Bettina Adela talks to us about her work and practice, what inspires her and what she aims to achieve through her artwork via the exploration and representation of black narrative.


Tell us more about yourself and your practice.

I’m predominantly a documentary and portrait photographer however I try not to categorise myself or put my work into a box. I enjoy creating emotional and thought evoking images which each have their own personal story behind them. While working as a freelancer I have gained an interest in capturing the energy of live music events to the hard hitting protests we face in London.

I am a Londoner, an East Londoner to be more precise. Living in East London has definitely impacted my creativity, in the way I shoot and the people I choose to shoot. It is a beautiful yet daring place to grow up in. I fell into photography whilst figuring out which art medium I preferred best, I started off painting and then picked up a camera and haven’t looked back since. I am a storyteller, I enjoy documenting the day to day life of someone or capturing a picture which can express their whole story just through their eyes.

What was your creative process for this series or for your work in general?

My creative process differs depending on where the inspiration has come from. Sometimes I create mood boards to explore the idea further and sometimes I grab my camera to go outdoors to test shoot.

In regards to this series, it came about by revisiting some of my old images. I was looking to re-edit some old images and found myself collating these specific images together.  

Generally when collating images together for a final project I always envision it in a book or exhibition space; this is how I decide which images to keep. I am inspired by street style and I tend to gravitate towards nature and greenery when shooting portraits.


What work inspires or has inspired you?

Nothing inspires me more than people; their faces, their stories and their actions. But if I had to choose a few of my favourite photographers and their works, there would be three in particular. KayLynn Deveneys documentary photo book of ‘The Day-to-Day life of Albert Hastings’, the candid documentation of the American street life that Jamal Shabazz captures in all his works and the stunning colourful images that Lougè Delcy also known as Dapper Lou creates.

Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?

I’m not sure if you would describe it as a movement, but I would definitely say I enjoy where documentary photography is at now. Today, it is being expressed through many genres; shooting live music events can be categorised as a form of documenting the energy and atmosphere in that specific moment and that is relevant to that form of photography.


Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?

The exploration of the black image, blackness and our ever changing culture.

Your work ranges from live art/protest journalism to very artistic photographic work that touches on very serious and apt discursive topics in sociology and philosophy. What’s important to you as a subject or topic. What kind of message are you wanting to relay to an audience through your work?

It differs with every project, in a broad sense, all of my projects display my ideals that I previously mentioned. There is a lack of black narrative within this art form and I’m passionate about bringing these narratives to the forefront.


Can you tell us more about BLACK The Collective?

BLACK the Collective explores the black narrative. We bring together artists that tell stories and challenge current imagery. BTC aims to build a community that champions each other. This exhibition platform is pushing to dissolve that negative imagery within the media and replace it with the young artistic black successes of today!

Any words for aspiring artists?

As much as life may get in your way, always make time to focus on the projects you love to create. Ensure you schedule time to test shoot and play around with your ideas. In short, just do what you love!

Is there anything you’re currently working on?

We’ve got a new Black the Collective exhibition in the pipeline. Also I have plans for my first ever solo exhibition, so keep an eye out!

View her work. Follow her IG.