For this special update on photography and expatriation, we are happy to translate this interview taken in 2007 with Laura Rossi, an Italian photographer living in Houston, Texas. We recently contacted Laura and found that in 2009 she gave birth to Martina and last year to Alessandro. Of course, especially with the second child, time to devote to photography is extremely scarce. Laura jokes saying that she is currently still in survival mode but she expects to have a little more time soon to resume her passion. Since we talked to her in 2007, Laura Rossi has grown further in her passion of photography. She continues to frequent the camera club she mentions in the interview and focused more on fine art photos but still continues with classical beautiful landscapes. An example of her photographic evolution can be found on her website. Laura is now more focused on « intimate » landscapes inspired by Christopher Burkett. She is in love with the details of the swamps near Houston and will soon create a portfolio on this topic. At the same time she is trying to start a portfolio of portraiture work on children and families, one shes says is extremely difficult, very compétitive, but so satisfying. Follow her work on the website : www.laurarossiphotography.com
Laura Rossi is a young talented Italian photographer who lives in Houston. In this interview she tells how her passion began and developed into the world class photography that it is today. Thanks Laura!
Interview by Claudiaexpat
Your training has nothing to do with photography …
No, I have a degree in Environmental Science and have always worked in the telecommunications field, which initially led me to travel around a lot in Italy. I started working in Bari, then I moved to Padua, then to Rome. This kind of life is exciting at first but after a time it tires you out. When I was offered a steady job in Switzerland, I jumped at the chance. The distance between my house (Como) and where I was to work was no greater than the Italian cities where I had worked in the past. The pay was interesting too, so I moved.
And is it in Switzerland that your passion for photography began?
Yes! Before moving to Switzerland I was an amateur photographer and like most people, I took pictures when I was on vacation or at family celebrations. In Switzerland however, the landscapes are so breathtakingly beautiful, that I felt really compelled to photograph them. Each time I did, I took more and more pictures and they were different every time. I started by buying myself a Reflex. Without realising, I got into a kind of vortex that compelled me to read books, to buy more and more sophisticated lenses, to come into contact with the environment of photography …
How did you acquire the technique?
I did a basic course at the beginning, once a week for a month. For the rest I tried, tried and tried again. I posted a lot of questions in various forums on photography on the Internet. I have to say that the Internet is a wonderful resource and found a lot of willingness on the part of participants in these forums. At first I was totally ignorant of many concepts and technical details, and I found very patient, helpful people that were always ready to assist. As far as the quality of the photograph itself, there is not much to do except observing and experiencing.
Do you draw inspiration from any photographer in particular ?
My mentor is Ansel Adams, master of landscape photography in the United States, where he’s considered the best in his field.
Let’s talk about landscapes. Your photography is focused on them. Is there a particular reason?
As I said before, it was the Swiss countryside that unleashed my passion. Landscapes there are so amazing that it was impossible for me to curb the urge to photograph them. Once I started, I became absolutely passionate about searching for the right light, the right time of day. I wanted to constantly improve the picture. Besides, the work I was doing in Switzerland helped. I was creating the GSM network and had to make countless visits to different places, so I got to know the country. Of course, the job allowed me many opportunities to take photos. I lived in Berne for three and a half years then I moved to France and then again to Ticino, Switzerland .
So if we speak of interaction between elements of the countries that welcome you and your creativity, we can say that in your photographs you express the emotions that come from the natural environment? That is, what you most like to catch in a new country is the natural appearance and landscaping?
Yes, although in Texas where I live now, the situation is different because the landscapes are not as beautiful as Switzerland or Europe. For visual variety here you need to do a lot of traveling as it is very flat. However, contact with animals is much easier and there are many occasions to do so. For example in the Gulf of Mexico there are thousands of nesting birds, which can be very closely and easily observed, something which is rare to find in Europe. So now I find that am taking advantage of the closeness to nature.
Have you ever thought or wanted to make photography your career?
Who wouldn’t be happy making a living out of their passion? Actually when I came here a year ago, I was considering trying to do something professionally with photography. But the market is bizarre. Here people like portraits; photographs in schools for example. That type of photography means that you liaise with clients more and that you are continually seeking new contacts, yet at the same time trying to keep existing clients happy. Working at this level implies a higher production at the expense of quality. I like variety and to preserve the quality for me is a very important part of my photography. My passion as a photographer is not only taking the shot but also in the printing. The printing is very exciting.
How much space does photography take in practical terms in your life? How much time do you spend on it, how does it interact with your daily routine ?
I attend a photography club and meet lots of like minded and interesting people which helps a lot in terms of growth and learning.
To get a picture exactly how I want it, takes logistics and time. I have to get to a specific place at the correct time, maybe returning several times until the light is exactly right. The best time for the kind of photos I do is early morning or sunset. So taking pictures for me involves a lot of moving, often arriving in remote locations and maybe returning several times to the same spot. In this sense I am lucky to have a husband who is happy to accompany me, since I would hesitate going some places on my own. He is also a great source of encouragement so I enjoy him tagging along. I am presently working on a series of pictures of birds, and even if he’s not particularly interested, he follows me willingly. He stands by me and supports me in my photography and this is very important.
We met through the announcement of one of your exhibitions in Houston. How many exhibitions have you done? Have you won any awards?
The exhibition you mention is the same one I did in Bellinzona, in a building by Mario Botta. It was very interesting as I had lot’s of feedback. I decided to do the same exhibition again in Houston, but this time in a wine bar. My time in Houston has been good but the approach of the Americans is quite different from that of Europeans. They have different tastes in the style and type of photography and have very exact ideas in their approach to presentation. As for prizes, one thing that makes me very proud is being in the semifinals in a contest of the 2006 Maria Luisa Memorial. It’s a contest of photographs taken in the mountains and is held in Spain, annually. Being an international competition, virtually all of the greatest landscape photographers participate. Being in the semi finals was very flattering. Apart from that I still participate in competitions more as a test of my skill than out of real interest. For example, I won a couple of CAI (Italian Alpine Club) contests. Participating and winning at a regional level is much simpler. It always gives me gréât satisfaction, though!!
The website of Laura Rossi: https://www.laurarossiphoto.com