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Paolo Roversi
Paolo Roversi

Paolo Roversi

Country: Italy
Birth: 1947

Paolo Roversi is an Italian-born fashion photographer based in Paris. His work is distinguished by soft, monochromatic images of women, with bodies veiled in shadow and captured with careful care to emphasize stunning facial features.

Photography goes beyond the limits of reality and illusion. It brushes up against another life, another dimension, revealing not only what is there but what is not there.

-- Paolo Roversi


Paolo Roversi, who was born in Ravenna in 1947, became interested in photography as a teenager during a family vacation in Spain in 1964. Back at home, he established a darkroom in a convenient cellar with another keen amateur, local postman Battista Minguzzi, and began developing and printing his own black-and-white work. The meeting with a local professional photographer, Nevio Natali, was crucial: in Nevio's studio, Roversi spent many hours completing an important apprenticeship as well as a close and lasting friendship.

In 1970, he began working with the Associated Press, and his first assignment was to cover Ezra Pound's burial in Venice. During the same year, Paolo Roversi founded his first portrait studio in Ravenna, capturing local celebrities and their families. In 1971, he met Peter Knapp, the legendary Art Director of Elle magazine, by chance in Ravenna. Paolo visited Paris in November 1973 at Knapp's invitation and has never returned. Paolo began working as a reporter for the Huppert Agency in Paris, but through his friends, he gradually began to explore fashion photography.

But the photographers who piqued his interest at the time were reporters. Paolo Roversi knew nothing about fashion or fashion photography at the moment. Later, he discovered the work of Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, and many others. In 1974, the British photographer Lawrence Sackmann hired Paolo as an assistant. Paolo endured Sackmann for nine months: "Sackmann was very difficult. Most assistants only lasted a week before running away. But he taught me everything I needed to know in order to become a professional photographer. Sackmann taught me creativity. He was always trying new things even if he did always use the same camera and flash set-up. He was almost military-like in his approach to preparation for a shoot. But he always used to say ‘your tripod and your camera must be well-fixed but your eyes and mind should be free’." Then he went freelance, doing small jobs for magazines like Elle and Depeche Mode until Marie Claire published his first major fashion story.

When I take a picture using window light, I always think about what a long trip the light is making to reach my subject.

-- Paolo Roversi


Roversi's portfolio now includes celebrity and fashion photography. He has been a consistent contributor to American Vogue, and Vogue Italia, W, Vanity Fair, Interview and i-D. He has also photographed advertising campaigns for Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, Dior, Cerruti, GIADA, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Alberta Ferreti. Continuing to be a major force in contemporary fashion, Paolo Roversi is notable for his use of 8x10 Polaroid film, which is no longer produced. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions worldwide, including at Pace MacGill Gallery in New York, James Gallery in Moscow, and Comme des Garçons in Tokyo, Rencontres d'Arles festival, France (2008), among others.
 

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