Paolo Roversi

Born: Ravenna, Italy, 1974

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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”.

Paolo Roversi Biography

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Written by Marine Lazarus

Marine Lazarus, an Anglo-French photographer who moved to UK 3 years ago to study journalism at Brunel University in London. Marine is responsible for our Photographers Biographies section.

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