Wayne Ford on Paolo Roversi: ‘the photographer and his muse’ [Picbod]

by M. Mileva

Another huge bit of inspiration from the Picbod class.

Here we are featuring a post from contributor Wayne Ford, taken from his excellent and ‘must-bookmark’ posterous blog.

Once describing himself as ‘an unsophisticated photographer making sophisticated photographs’ the work of Italian-born photographer Paolo Roversi is marked by a graphic simplicity, that the historian Martin Harrison would suggest in Appearances: Fashion photography since 1945 (Jonathan Cape, 1991), is both ‘starkly modern and delicately ethereal.’

Working with continuous light sources — daylight, HMI and Maglite’s — that necessitate longer exposures than those required when working with flash, Roversi approaches fashion with the eye of a portrait photographer; even considering his nudes as portraits too. And as with most portraiture, the ‘eyes are very important,’ he says, ‘I can’t explain technically why the look of the subject is more deep, more touching, more human if the photographer uses a long exposure for the shot, but it is. I learned this from studying early photographs, when the photographers were obliged to use longer exposures. The portraits looked much deeper.’

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With his colour photographs, such as, Guinevere in yellow dress, Paris, 1996, we find a graceful, almost fragile beauty that reflects qualities found in the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites. As his subject — his muse — walks through the photographic composition, her gaze downwards, the transparency of her form appears to hover between the physical and metaphysical; here he captures — or more correctly seizes — a fleeting moment, transforming it in to a timeless dimension, presenting what Romeo Gigli calls a ‘classical and yet absolutely modern dimension of history and myth,’ in his photographs.