Paolo Roversi was born in Ravenna in 1947. His interest in photography began as a teenager during a family holiday in Spain in 1964. Back home, he set up a darkroom in a cellar with another amateur, the local postman Battista Minguzzi. Together, they began developing and printing their own black & white work.
Soon after, Roversi began working with a local professional photographer called Nevio Natali: in his studio Paolo spent many hours realizing an important apprenticeship as well as developing a strong durable friendship.
In 1970 he started collaborating with the Associated Press: on his first assignment, he was sent to cover Ezra Pound’s funeral in Venice. During the same year he opened with his friend Giancarlo Gramantieri his first portrait studio, photographing local celebrities and their families.
In 1971 he met Peter Knapp, then Art Director of Elle magazine. On Knapp’s invitation, Paolo visited Paris in November 1973 and has lived there ever since. There he 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.
Wider recognition was brought by a Christian Dior beauty campaign in 1980, the same year he started using the 8 x 10” Polaroid format that would become his trademark.
In the middle of the 1980s the fashion industry was very keen to produce catalogues which allowed photographers to express a very creative and personal work: Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, Romeo Gigli gave Paolo that opportunity. During his travels to India and Yemem, he took many portraits that can today be admired in his books “ANGELI” and “Al Moukalla”.