Byrd Williams IV was born into a family of Texas photographers. Like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before him, his photographs reflect his observations and understanding of the world. While working as an artist with work in museums both in the United States and abroad, Williams also writes, teaches, and is working on a 300,000-image archive of his family’s art, cameras, and letters at University of North Texas. His life and work were the topic of the Mark Birnbaum documentary, “Proof” as well as his own 2016 book by the same name.
Williams collaborated with Dr. Betsy Brody to create portraits of each of the narrators in the “Becoming Texans, Becoming Americans” Oral History Collection. Williams and Brody asked narrators to bring with them to the studio objects that were meaningful or significant to their stories. The narrators were photographed, with their objects, using a large format camera built in the early 1900s. The black and white photographs, processed using a technique called “swift-toning,” have a 3D effect and, because of a layer of selenium and gold added during the printing stage, will last five hundred years or longer. In addition, Williams took triptych style color photographs of several narrators.
The photographs are archived as part of the “Byrd Williams Family Photography Collection” at the University of North Texas Libraries.