Alice Rosati has one of those personalities which takes a minute to be figured out.
Creative, somehow eccentric, captivating and uncontrollable, this young fashion photographer – who seems to live for the fun of it – actually has very high goals set for herself. Brilliantly clever, she has developed her unique style the hardest way – by doing the job – and that has brought her to work with some of the most interesting fashion magazines in the world -Vogue Russia, Lampoon, Vogue Italia and Garage to name a few. No matter how busy her routine might get, Alice never stops creating concepts and telling new stories through her photographs. Fascinated by the capacity of fashion to unveil a parallel, impossible and absolutely fabulous world, Alice sees the magic before it happens, only to catch it with her camera, right before it’s gone. We chatted with Alice about her background and how she got to do the job she truly, desperately loves.

Alice Rosati

Alice Rosati

Alice, what is your first memory of yourself holding a camera?
I remember it very clearly. When I was four years old my dad gave me one of those disposable cameras you could find back in the days, which automatically featured one of the Ninja Turtles in every frame. Using that little camera is my very first memory of myself interacting with a photographic device. I loved it so much because in every picture I would take there were these funny cartoons coming up and I have such a sweet memory of my first selfie with my dad using that very camera.

Tell us something about your background and how did your passion for photography begin.
I’ve always taken artsy photographs – that was my first approach to photography itself – through various projects such as self-portrait weird, unusual contexts. At the time I began taking photography a little more seriously I was living in Greece and after a few seasons in Mykonos I decided to move to Athens in order to try and accomplish something, make my degree in Art Critics count and start from scratch. A really good friend of mine – who used to be a photographer in the 80s and then moved into production and location scouting – had a photographic studio right beside the Acropolis. He allowed me to use it and that was my photography fun-park: I had all the equipment I could possibly ask for and no limits to what I could experiment. So I started looking for models and clothes – pretty randomly – and shot my first fashion editorials there. I hadn’t studied and it’s no secret that taste gets developed through time, so my first stuff was not the greatest. Then I decided to assist for one season and I went to Milan to work with Graziano Ferrari – legendary pit photographer – in the backstage of the fashion shows in Milan. It was the craziest job ever: rushing with my motor-bike from one show to the other in order to get him a spot by elbowing people here and there and then off to the next one, as soon as he got there himself. Still, that allowed me to get some great models photographed in my portfolio. Back to Athens, Madame Figaro and Grazia Greece contacted me and gave me my first editorials to shoot. It was crazy for me, I didn’t even know how to put up the lights! But I guess that’s how this job works. Being in the right place at the right time.

When did you decide to leave Greece?
Shortly after being given these first assignments, I decided that I actually liked the job and wanted to pursue it. So I went back to Milan and landed a contract with a pretty big agency – Atomo – and started for real, working with the parterre of Italian fashion magazines at the time, which was much more limited than what it is today.

Have you always done fashion ever since?
Yes, but I do have a parallel artsy production of my own, which doesn’t pay for the rent but I keep following. That includes my own personal projects, landscapes and more.

Alice Rosati

You mentioned that, once you got access to a studio, your very first intent was the one of looking for models, clothes and shoot fashion. Why?
I guess because fashion is – within the photographic field – the most creative environment among the ones who’d allow you to really make a job out of photography. Then, of course, me being a woman played a significant role in it as I’ve always loved clothes and beauty and my photographs speak clearly of that. I’ve always been fascinated by the fashion industry because it sells dreams, and the images fashion photographers create represent them. Right now the leading trend wants no makeup and a very natural look, but when I started everything was a lot more glamorous and within that concept I developed my image of a woman who – despite the changing of trends – tends to be glam and constructed in my photographs.

Would you say that fashion was always a passion of yours, even before you began to photograph it?
I’d say that the passion for it is something that grew within me later on, while doing it. Of course, before I started pursuing a career as fashion photographer I had my idols, but speaking of photographers such as Helmut Newton or Guy Bourdin is clear how they are not only fashion photographers. They were the ones inventing new techniques and developing styles and concepts that could be defined as art, more than fashion. Paradoxically, the photographer’s job is going back to what it used to be, back then: most people don’t know how to use a film camera today, digital made everything so easy and photoshop is a huge safety net to have, so it’s no longer about capturing the image but creating it, selling an idea. Photographers have become Art Directors: envisioning the idea, putting it into a concept, developing the image and editing it are all equally important parts of the job.

What are, in your opinion, the biggest challenges anyone aiming to become a fashion photographer would face today?
To be honest, I’d say that it’s pretty hard today from someone who isn’t insert in the fashion industry in any way or has no contact within it – at the end of the day, it’s all about the contacts – to approach this job. It’s definitely not as it used to be, ten years ago. The ones who start small and then climb their way up toward the biggest magazines, developing their taste are no longer appreciated. Today – in order to enter a big agency, for example – it’s better to have no experience at all so that they can build you up as they wish. Commercial magazines are considered despicable and if you have worked with those in the past you’ll probably never get to work for the top ones. The problem is that commercial jobs are what pay the bills so it’s a paradox, because the work you’d need to do in order to keep up doing it in the first place could easily jeopardise your chance to be fully successful. That’s probably the worst aspect about this industry: it’s not meritocratic at all. Sometimes is better to say no, but that bothers me because I really love my job, it’s the only thing I can really do. I consider myself to be very lucky as I am one of those few people who are able to live doing what they truly love.

Alice Rosati

Describe your photographic style in three words.
First I would say cinematographic, as I work a lot with cinema lights and even in the way I crop my images I like to think of them as takes from a movie. That allows me to tell a story through my images, which I consider very important for an editorial, it should transport people into a different dimension I’ve created. That’s what I meant when I sad that fashion sells dreams: people must desire to be taken into this new universe you’re creating for them and showing them. Analog, as I love to work with film and its grains and colours and Polyhedral.

What would you say is more important for you, referring to your work: being liked or being unique?
This is a very complicated question as these are the two faces of the same coins. Ideally, one should be appreciated for his unique features, but the truth is that working in this field everyone gets inevitably influenced by trends. I try my best not to look at magazines in order not to get influenced, but it’s hard as we are saturated with visuals everywhere we look. I’ve always tried to pursue a type of photography and represent a kind of woman who doesn’t necessarily follow what’s mainstream. I really like Philippe Lorca di Corcia and other Art photographers, I’m less inspired by fashion photographers. Probably the only fashion photographer I’ve always loved is Steven Meisel, but that might be the result of me growing up reading Vogue Italia. I tend to see everything black or white, no grey areas so I’d say that the most important thing for me is to be unique, but facing the harsh truth is, well, harsh and no one wants for his work to be received badly. I guess that’s the never ending artist’s duality.

You’ve worked with some very interesting magazines – Garage, The Fashionable Lampoon to name a few – which is job you’ve done so far that gave you the greatest satisfaction?
I’ve done many jobs I really loved and most of the times those are the ones I do just for myself, but one gigs I remember with pleasure was the last fashion editorial I’ve done for Lampoon with Charlie Le Mindu, who’s a true artist and a dear friend. When working with inspiring people you get to create some kind of idyllic environment where everyone brings something unique to the table. Another job I will always remember and which was possibly the craziest thing I’ve done so far was this editorial for Aishti – a Lebanese magazine I work for a lot. They sent me to shoot in Orlando, Florida in this natural reserve with alive crocs right beside the model. That was a once in the life thing!

When working at commercial jobs, have you ever experienced having to compromise your taste in order to please the requests of a client?
Definitely! That happens all the time and it’s up to the photographer being able to play right, keep your integrity and showing you’re likely to compromise at the same time. There are so many photographers out there today that one can’t afford to be too difficult, because the client would take five minutes to replace him if necessary. This idea of the big fashion photographer from the 80s who was the one dictating the look and the mood is way overdue.

Would you say – especially when working within an editorial context – that the photographer is more of a leader or a mediator?
Definitely a leader. When shooting an editorial is the photographer choosing the team, the models, the stylist and the overall concept. At least, it should be like this. When shooting an editorial there’s no Art Director, that’s why the photographer comes in as Art Director and has to defend his ideas and make them valuable, still respecting everyone’s work. Fashion is all about team work.

How do you get ready for a job?
There’s a lot going on before the actual shoot. It doesn’t matter if then, on set, things don’t go exactly as you planned them. You still need to research. It’s always good to have a plan: I usually do a location scouting first and ask the stylist to send me the looks one day before the shoot, so I can think of where I want to shoot certain pieces. This allows me to speed up the work and make my mind up on poses, crops and what I’ll ask the model to do.

Alice Rosati

You’re now based in Paris. Does the city inspire you in any way? Why did you pick Paris among all the cities you could have chosen as your base?
After moving away from Greece, living one year in Madrid and spending some time in Milan, my actual husband – who was my fiancé back then – finished studying his fashion degree and wanted to enter a fashion house in Paris. He then decided to go toward a completely different direction and works in Art Direction, but back then his desire to work for this particular Maison was the reason which first brought us here. I must say, I could not live in London. New York is great for a few weeks – it’s all frenzy and exciting – but for me it would be ideal to spend some time in these cities every year and still be able to come back to my favourite brasserie and a good glass of wine. I love Paris, it’s a beautiful city and my life here is much healthier that the one I used to do – in Milan for example – as I live in the city centre, I cycle or walk everywhere, it’s an enjoyable place to be. Speaking of my photography, I don’t really see Paris in the background as it’s too baroque, too researched and rich for the type of concept I usually develop. Still, here too are some pretty great locations to be discovered. The Paris of Riccardo Bonfil, the architectures of the 70s, these surreal landscapes are what fascinates me the most.

Is there a dream concept of yours which you haven’t had a chance to develop, just yet?
I have so many of them! I just managed to accomplish one of them: the cat lady. I actually shot Catrine Deneuve with that concept, it was amazing.

If you could photograph anyone – alive or dead – who would it be?
I’d probably pick a great cinematic icon from the golden years such as Elisabeth Taylor or Marylyn Monroe. Elisabeth Taylor would be more my type, she had purple eyes. I tend to be fascinated by particular features and characters. Definitely, it would be a woman.

What are your plans for the following months?
I’m going to focus on commercial jobs for a while. Apart from that, I’ll keep looking out for stylists I like and that could bring something different to my work. I’d like to start working with new people who could bring me toward new, different directions.

Where do wish to see yourself in five-years time?
Shooting the cover of Vogue Italia. I’ve always considered that my dream and I won’t feel fully accomplished as a photographer until I’ll get there.

Alice Rosati

Alice Rosati

Visit Alice Rosati’s Website here.

All Images Courtesy of Alice Rosati.

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