Paolo Roversi Alex de Brabant

Paolo Roversi

Photographer

The veteran photographer’s high-contrast portraits, full of drama and intrigue, have made him a household name.

Italy Creative Class 2013 BoF 500 2013 2014 BoF 500 2014

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Biography

Paolo Roversi shoots some of the most elegant photography in the fashion industry. His measured, classical style is made magical by his skill at manipulating light. His haunting, unguarded shots consistently strip away the facade of his subjects and draw out their raw selves, offseting fashion’s tendency to conceal and recast.

Roversi’s commercial clients include Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, Christian Dior and Guerlain. Roversi has shot ten covers for i-D Magazine, and is a regular contributor to W Magazine, Vanity Fair and the British and Italian editions of Vogue.

Roversi’s interest in photography was sparked as a teenager during a family vacation in Spain in 1964. Once home he set up a darkroom in his cellar with the help of the local postman Battista Minguzzi. Roversi soon apprenticed himself to a local photographer in order to hone his craft further.

In 1970 Roversi opened his first portrait studio photographing local celebrities and their families with his friend Giancarlo Gramantieri. In 1971 he met Peter Knapp, the Art Director of Elle magazine, by chance, in Ravenna. At Knapp’s invitation, Roversi visited Paris in November 1973 and has never left.

The British photographer Lawrence Sackmann took Roversi on as his assistant in 1974. Roversio has commented that, "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’." Roversi endured Sackmann for nine months before starting on his own with small jobs for magazines such as Elle and Depeche Mode; his first big break came when Marie Claire published his first major fashion story.

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