Paolo Roversi


Born in Ravenna in 1947, Paolo Roversi’s interest in photography was kindled  as  a  teenager  during  a  family  vacation  in  Spain  in  1964. Back home, he set up a darkroom in a convenient cellar with another keen  amateur,  the  local  postman  Battista  Minguzzi,  and  began developing  and  printing  his  own  black  &  white  work.  The  encounter with  a  local  professional  photographer  Nevio  Natali  was  very important: in Nevio’s studio Paolo spent many many hours realising an important apprenticeship as well as a strong durable friendship. In 1970 he started collaborating with the Associated Press: on his first  assignment,  AP  sent  Paolo  to  cover  Ezra  Pound’s  funeral  in Venice. During the same year Paolo opened, with his friend Giancarlo Gramantieri  his  first  portrait  studio,  located  in  Ravenna,  via Cavour, 58, photographing local celebrities and their families. In 1971  he  met  by  chance  in  Ravenna,  Peter  Knapp,  the  legendary  Art Director  of  Elle  magazine.  At  Knapp’s  invitation,  Paolo  visited Paris in November 1973 and has never left. In Paris Paolo started working as a reporter for the Huppert Agency but  little  by  little,  through  his  friends,  he  began  to  approach fashion  photography.  The  photographers  who  really  interested  him then  were  reporters.  At  that  moment  he  didn’t  know  much  about fashion or fashion photography.
Only later he discovered the work of Avedon, Penn, Newton, Bourdin and many others. The  British  photographer  Lawrence  Sackmann  took  Paolo  on  as  his assistant  in  1974.  «  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’”.  Paolo endured Sackmann for nine  months  before  starting  on  his  own  with  small  jobs  here  and there  for  magazines  like  Elle  and  Depeche  Mode  until  Marie  Claire published  his  first  major  fashion  story.  A  Christian  Dior  beauty campaign brought him wider recognition in 1980, the year he started using the 8 x 10” Polaroid format that would become his trademark. Not  only  because  of  the  large  camera,  Paolo  has  always  preferred working in studio. In his first years in Paris, the studio was very often  a  room  from  his  own  different  apartments,  all  on  the  left bank, until he found in 1981 the studio located in 9 rue Paul Fort where he is still working. In  the  middle  of  the  ‘80s  the  fashion  industry  was  very  keen  to produce  catalogues  which  allowed  photographers  to  express  a  very creative and personal work: Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, Romeo Gigli… gave Paolo that opportunity.
During his travels to India, Yemen…   Paolo took many portraits; we can  see  some  of  them  in  his  books  ANGELI  and  Al Moukalla; a bookabout  India  is  in  preparation.  Paolo  has  also  realised  some commercials. Since the middle 80’ his work has been subject to many exhibitions and books and many awards have honoured his work. Today Paolo has a regular collaboration with the most interesting fashion magazines and fashion designers.



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