PODCAST:A Photographic Life, Episode 47: Plus Photographer Paolo Roversi

In episode 47 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his shed considering working for free, the relevance of stoicism to the photographer, and the importance of retaining photographic integrity to work within advertising photography.

Plus this week Grant re-visits a recorded conversation he had with legendary fashion and portrait photographer Paolo Roversi in London in 2011. 

You can find out more about Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (6 April 1820 – 20 March 1910), known by the pseudonym ‘Nadar’, mentioned by Paolo Roversi in this week’s episode here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadar

Born in Ravenna, Italy in 1947, Paolo Roversi’s interest in photography was kindled as a teenager during a family vacation in Spain in 1964. On returning home, he set up a darkroom in a cellar with another keen amateur, the local postman Battista Minguzzi, and Paolo began developing and printing his own black & white work. In 1970 he began working with the Associated Press and on his first assignment, was sent to cover the poet and writer Ezra Pound’s funeral in Venice. During the same year he opened, with his friend Giancarlo Gramantieri his first portrait studio, located in Ravenna, photographing local celebrities and their families. In 1971 by chance he met the legendary Art Director of Elle magazine Peter Knapp and at Knapp’s invitation, Paolo visited Paris in 1973 and he has never left. In Paris he started working as a reporter but gradually, began to approach fashion photography. The British photographer Lawrence Sackmann took Paolo on as his assistant in 1974 but after just nine months he started out on his own with small commissions for magazines such as Elle and Depeche Mode before Marie Claire magazine published his first major fashion story. A Christian Dior beauty campaign brought him wider recognition in 1980, the year he started using the 8″ x 10” Polaroid format that would become his trademark. During the 1980s the fashion industry started to produce catalogues which allowed photographers to express creative and personal work and designers such as Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, and Romeo Gigli gave Paolo that opportunity. Since the the 80’s his work has been subject to many exhibitions and books and he has received many awards for his work. Today Paolo is a regular contributor and collaborator with the most interesting and influential fashion designers and fashion magazines around the world. www.paoloroversi.com

You can also access and subscribe to these podcasts at SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/unofphoto on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/a-photographic-life/id1380344701 on Player FM https://player.fm/series/a-photographic-life and Podbean www.podbean.com/podcast-detail/i6uqx-6d9ad/A-Photographic-Life-Podcast

Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer in Professional Photography at the University of Gloucestershire, a working photographer, and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Focal Press 2014) and The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Focal Press 2015). His next book New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2019. He is currently work on his next documentary film project Woke Up This Morning: The Rock n’ Roll Thunder of Ray Lowry www.wokeupthismorningfilm.com.

His documentary film, Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay has been screened across the UK and the US in 2018 and will be screened in the US and Canada in 2019.

© Grant Scott 2019


  1. Do you think there’s something inherently special about being a professional photographer?

    Your position in this weeks podcast – and in many past ones too – seems to suggest this.

    I think photographers often err on the side of being way too self-reverential.

    When I started, I didn’t have “the art, the craft, the skill, the experience and the knowledge that it takes to be a professional photographer” but that didn’t stop me for a moment.

    All I had was one camera, one lens and a totally unwarranted belief (at that point) that it was a job I could do.

    1. I think there is something special about mastering any profession whether that means that you are a bricklayer, hairdresser, boat builder etc etc. It is that quality that should be rewarded financially. We all start out at a place of learning and never stop learning hopefully.

      1. I just don’t think you can put people who use photography to earn their living on a pedestal these days.

        It isn’t even a profession, in the true sense of the word, because you don’t have to qualify or serve years as an apprentice.

        Besides which, unlike bricklaying, hairdressing and boat building, it’s not even really a craft any more either.

        You’ve been doing it 20 years, I’ve been doing it close on 40 and IMHO, on any given day, a kid straight out of school could pick up a camera and take a better photo than either of us.

        These days, I think it’s all about talent and opportunity.

        I agree that one should never stop trying to learn but decades of experience doesn’t mean so much nowadays.

      2. I wish I had only been doing it for twenty years, its 35 this year! As always we must agree to disagree but thanks as always for the comments

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