Search for content, post, videos

Photo Vogue Festival : Paolo Roversi: Each photo is a meeting


Archives – Novembre 21, 2017

The second edition of Photo Vogue Festival, the international event devoted to fashion photography organised by Vogue Italia, lights up Milano from November 16th to December 17th, 2017 with images, including the exhibit Stories, dedicated to Paolo Roversi at the Palazzo Reale venue.

Alessia Glaviano, senior photo editor of Vogue Italia and curator of the exhibit  – explains: one always find in Roversi ” a tendency to experiment in a dream-like atmosphere ,  a sense of  poetry and of the ineffable. The event is a quite interesting counterpoint to the Fashion & Politics exhibit, another of the festival focuses.”

The Eye of Photography interviewed the well-known fashion photographer Paolo Roversi during the sting up of the exhibition  in the rooms of the Prince’s Apartment, whose frescoes survived the II World War destruction.


Nine themes for Stories, one for each of the rooms hosting your exhibit: how did you define the arrangement?
The exhibition is showcased across the nine rooms of the Prince’s Apartment. Each room reflects a different facet of my work, like short stories, from the introspective may be less known , to the high-fashion shots, to portraits and nudes. I tried to set them up in a manner best suited to the charming atmosphere of the rooms.

Your work can be seen visiting the exhibit Storie and the concomitant Incontri show, which is on at the Galleria Carla Sozzani/Fondazione Sozzani venue: are they synergistic?
They are very different, though complementary, as they are representative of my manifold work. For instance, the Incontri (Meetings) issue is quite important to me, because I think each photo is a meeting, a kind of exchange between the subject and the photographer. Incontri shows works I produced in collaboration with the American photographer Robert Frank. It shows also diptychs and triptychs illustrating people I met or photos playing nicely together in spite of I being shot in different places and times. Each photo follows its own path (impossible to predict): some will remain locked up in a box, others will become icons.

A kind of ineffable feeling for light has been defining your aesthetics since the beginning: how do you describe “the sense of light” we can sense in your work? Do you think – paraphrasing Nadar – there is also a “sense of color” in your work?
Well, light in photography is not a matter of logic or maths. It’s rather connected with sentiments and feelings. As for the color, in my photos it is never predominant, it rather gets in tune with the subject.

Which are the factors transforming an image into “the photo” you are looking for?
Luck plays a role in this, so many variables are involved. Of course, one bases the shooting on research and technique, but photos come into the world in different ways . Furthermore, it’s the public who decide which is “the” photo.

Why did you decide to use Polaroid? What about digital photography?
I started to use Polaroid (and its large format films) in the 1980s: it was like love at first sight. I used it for its unique color, its contrast, as it can be seen looking at the images in the Storie exhibit. Anyway, it became my own palette. Digital photography is something different of course, but I’ve no problem in experimenting and working with other techniques as they are all “about the light”.

What is the role of creativity and technique? And what is your relationship with the people you portray?
Emotions are quite significant in my work as well as my imagination. Technique is vital, it’s a necessary condition for shooting. A good technique is not a constraint, instead it is a tool that support the freedom of expression. A deep connection and a meaningful relationship is what happens between me and the person I’m portraying. The act of shooting is somehow a double mirror, where the photographer and the subject mutually reflect each other.

How do you capture reality (models are real) while achieving ethereal images, similar to the fragments of a dream?
Photography comes out from real situations (it’s different, for instance, from music or painting). Photos record real things. It’s our particular way of taking a picture that convey a dream-like emotion, a sense of the immaterial and the impalpable. How do you get it? Maybe thanks to a dreamy nature.

The history of fashion is also an history of photographers: the aesthetic taste is influenced by the photographers’ work?
The history of fashion and the history of fashion photography go hand in hand. Fashion photography put fashion in a figurative language. Indeed, it blends a kind of “double-portrait”: the portrait of the woman who is wearing that particular dress and the one of the dress itself. It’s this very chemistry that creates the allure of fashion photography. To achieve this result, it’s quite important to work with great models who have their own personality, which is evident in the way they “interpret” the dress they’re wearing. They are like actresses: they play a specific role while transmitting energy and a unique atmosphere to the photographer. To me they are main characters. Then the photographer adds his own vision.

Which are the photographic language main features?
Photographic language is universal (like the one of music). It doesn’t need to be translated or explained; it’s emotional, everyone can understand it. It’s closely related to time passing and memory, with a unique ambivalence in terms of presence and absence. Indeed, if I look at a picture an I see a certain person, he is there, within the photo, but, at the same time he can be absent for he is somewhere else. This issue can go further on dealing with memory, examining the connections between life and death, because photos are frozen moments in time.

What is beauty in your opinion?
I have no answers for this question. I simply don’t know it. I think beauty is one of the greatest and deepest mysteries. When I try to describe it or to think about it, I just cannot unravel this issue. It’s such a fascinating mystery and it’s the main inspiration in my work. All my desire to express my emotions through photography comes from my longing for beauty.


Interview by Paola Sammartano
Paola Sammartano is a journalist specialized in arts and photography based in Milan, Italy.


This exhibition is organized by Vogue Italia and Comune di Milano – Cultura, Palazzo Reale. Catalogue by Skira Editore.

Paolo Roversi: Storie
Photo Vogue Festival 2017
From November 16 to December 17, 2017
Palazzo Reale
Piazzetta Reale
20122 Milano

Create an account or log in to read more and see all pictures.

Install WebApp on iPhone
Install WebApp on Android