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September - Beat Presser.

Beat Presser was born in Basel in 1952. He trained as a photographer and film cameraman in Basel, Paris and New York and worked as an editor of various photo magazines in the late 1970s. Today he works as a freelance photographer and cameraman and produces books and photo documentaries that reach a world-wide audience. He also teaches photography and film at universities and film colleges in Africa, South America and Asia

Beat Presser now has a broad photographic background within areas such as fashion, news, advertising, experimental and still photography. He started his professional photographic career in the 1970s working for one of Switzerland’s most prominent fashion photographers.  After intensive training in the studio and in the darkroom Beat moved to Paris where he got work as an assistant to some of the foremost fashion photographers in Paris. Some time later he realized that fashion photography wasn’t his thing and decided to try film and became a cameraman. After some time and together with a friend he also started the photographic periodical “The Village Cry”. They succeeded in publishing nine issues before the money ran out.

In 1981 Beat Presser returned to the world of film, now as a stills photographer and assistant cameraman for the director Werner Herzog. The film was called Fitzcarraldo with Klaus Kinski and Caludia Cardinale playing the lead. “This is without a doubt the most exciting assignment I’ve ever done so far. The film became world-famous because its many difficulties. The most difficult part of the filming was to drag a huge steamboat over a mountain in the Amazonian jungle of Peru,” explains Beat.

 Today Beat mainly works on his own projects. His pictures have been shown at exhibitions the world over and so far he’s published nine books, among them, Coming Attraction (1984) the film book Cobra Verde, 1987, Alpentraum, 1998, Kinski, 2000, and Werner Herzog, 2002.

In addition to his work with film, books, and exhibitions, he also teaches photography. Since 1995 he’s been collaborating with the Goethe Institute in Germany and holds workshops for young students in countries such as Chile, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Egypt and India. Among Beat’s collaborative partners and customers we find both companies and organizations such as the WWF, The German Film Museum, Pro Helvetia, DEZA, Air Madagascar, and ARTE.

“My work has taken me to far-off and fascinating places such as the Sahel zone in the Sahara, Amazonian rain forests, the Alps, the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, The Island of Madagascar, Moaïs in Rapa Nui, and mystical places from the time of the Etruscans,” Beat tells us. His trusty companions on these trips are a Hasselblad 500 C/M with the Zeiss lenses Distagon 40 mm, Planar 80 mm, Macro-Planar 120 mm, and Sonnar 250 mm, a Hasselblad XPan with 30 and 45 mm lenses, and two Leicas.”

“I often work in remote locations and under extreme difficult conditions. The cameras must defy the heat, dust, sand, rain, and damp and still give me the pictures I’m out after. Also  I always have to be sure that there is fast and efficient service available if something, despite everything, should go wrong,” says Beat.

“My ambition is to take my viewers on a journey into the unknown. I want to show them places and people that they probably don’t know even existed.”
In his current project, “Oasis of Silence”, Beat takes us to the land of Buddhist monks and temples. “I’m planning two books and an exhibition based on this theme. I’ve been working on this project for two years now , and I still have a long way to go, maybe 5 years, maybe even 10. But I’m in no hurry. My secret of success is to work with things that you like and to do them well. Time is of secondary importance.”

More information about Beat Presser at his website.

Kerstin Fiedler