Born in Ravenna, Italy in 1947, Paolo Roversi has lived and worked in Paris for over 35 years. After falling in love with taking and printing pictures in his youth, Roversi moved to Paris at the invitation of Peter Knapp, Elle’s renowned Art Director, in 1972. He started as a reporter for the Huppert Agency, but was soon drawn entirely to fashion photography. In 1974 Roversi became the assistant to British photographer Lawrence Sackmann whom he credits with teaching him “everything (he) needed to know in order to become a professional photographer”.
Following a Christian Dior beauty campaign in 1980, Roversi established himself as one of fashion’s pre-eminent photographers photographing icons such as Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and others. It was this same year Roversi began to use Polaroid’s instant 8 x 10” film which was to become his preferred format. Roversi’s film and printing techniques are diverse and adventurous, both technically and aesthetically, varying from Polaroids to gelatin silver to carbon and dye transfer prints. His signature technique though, is long exposure, the reason for which he eloquently summarises:
“I can’t explain it technically, but when the exposure is very long, the picture of the subject is more intense. The presence is much stronger, much deeper – in the aura, in the eyes, there is something. Maybe the soul is coming into the eyes. That’s something I learnt from looking at early photographs. If you take a picture with the flash, for me it’s empty. There’s an emptiness in the presence of the person.” – Paolo Roversi
Roversi has produced many monographs, including Nudi (Editions Stromboli, Paris: 1999), Paolo Roversi: Libretto (Steidl, Göttingen: 2000), and Studio (Steidl, Göttingen and Editions Stromboli, Paris: 2002). He has run advertising campaigns for Cerruti, Comme des Garçons, Christian Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, and Valentino, and his work has been published in an international selection of publications such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, I-D, Interview, Marie-Claire, The New York Times Magazine,
Italian and British Vogue and W.