“From Tuscany to catch the atmosphere of L.A.” This is the introduction to Stefania Rosini’s biography on her website.
Stefania Rosini was born on January 1st, 1975 in Montepascali, a small city in Tuscany, near Grosseto. She is madly in love with her hometown but she loves traveling a lot because it’s where she finds her inspiration.
Stefania studied at the University of Bologna (DAMS) and has a degree in History of Italian Cinema. Then, she worked for several photo agencies and in 2007 she moved to New York City for a few months.
She currently lives between Italy and Los Angeles, primarily working as set photographer.
She has published in famous Italian and international magazines, like Vogue Man, Marie Clair, New York Post, Rolling Stone, Variety, Entrainment Weekly, etc.
She has recently been featured with an interview about her work in Blackrapid.com and she has a couple of pictures published in the prestigious American Cinematographer Magazine. One of her pictures has received a special mention in “CliCiak: scatti di cinema”, an Italian contest dedicated to set photographers.
And last but not least…she really, really rocks!!!
Q.: How did your passion for photography start?
S.R.: I was 8 years old when for the first time I saw an image coming out of a piece paper in my cousin’s dark room and I thought right away it was a kind of magic. That moment I realized I knew exactly what I wanted to be! I borrowed a Nikon FM2 and started to take photos of everybody. My mom wasn’t very happy, because it was a very expensive hobby at that time.
Q.: To follow this passion of yours you have really traveled a lot both in Europe and in the USA. You’ve been living in Los Angeles for some time now. How much do you like living and working in L.A.?
S.R.: My dream city has always been New York, but then I was sent here in L.A. from a Milan press agency (Kika Press) 12 years ago. I remember that I felt in love with this city after one week. You can’t beat L.A. weather!!! I have achieved things here in a few years that I couldn’t have done in a million of decades in Italy 🙂 L.A. is an extremely cruel city but it is true that with strength, thrive, passion and luck, some of your dreams can come true! Then of course I miss real Italian food, but “you can’t have always get what you want” (The Rolling Stones ).
Q.: Each photographer has his/her own peculiarities which allow the observer to recognize each of his/her shots. Can you tell me what defines Stefania as a photographer? Is the use of a particular photographic camera? A particular technique?
S.R.: I don’t really know. I love black and white a lot so most of my shoots are B/W and I do like a lot of contrast in my photos. Just like in life, it’s black or white and there’s nothing in between. Today, I shoot a lot with a magnificent old Rolleiflex.
Q.: Stefania, you have always had a great passion for music and you told me that you started as a music photographer. You have photographed a lot of artists and also followed the band “A Perfect Circle” in Las Vegas. What differentiates still photography from having to shoot an artist at a concert or for an album cover?
S.R.: Yes. I started in Bologna, while I was studying at the University (DAMS). The agency Iguana Press gave me the opportunity to shoot live concerts. As you know another great passion of mine is Rock music, therefore for me it was amazing to photograph and see lots of my favorite bands, Italian and international, almost every night for free. I also loved so much the challenge because at concerts you are dealing with time (you can only photograph the first three songs from the pit), different lights, moving subjects and space (because sometimes there were more photographers in the pit than the crowd, Lol! And at the beginning there weren’t digital cameras so you also had to change the film! There is not so much difference between shooting at a concert than being in a movie set. In the latter, maybe you have more time, but I think that the concentration and the ability to move like a ninja is the same! The biggest difference is that on a set you would need a mirrorless camera (nowadays who would use a blimp anymore?) to be completely silent.
Q.: What subsequently led you to choose still photography?
S.R.: While I was studying cinema at university I started a first approach on small sets where my classmates were making short films or documentaries and I started to shoot BTS (Behind The Scenes). I realized that I could unify my two biggest passion CINEMA and PHOTOGRAPHY and that I could be part of the creative process without leaving a physical trace of me if not through my pictures. I think it was a love at first sight 🙂
Then, I also realized that as set photographer “you have a spot on the front row!” (quote – Merie Weismiller Wallace Unit Still Photographer based in Los Angeles). Our job is to seek the moment among the hints in an actor’s performance. We are on a hunt! And the stills are as powerful as that moment of the performance. In addition, our photos make people want to see a movie!
Of course, it’s not all glamorous as many people think. It’s also very tiring because of the many hours spent on set. Last but not least, it’s stressful, because you need to know your place, you need to adjust depending on the crew, you need to read people’s mind but I love it so much! It’s the best job ever!
Q.: I cannot prevent myself from asking you this next question: in 2017 you were set photographer for the movie “Lucky” with Harry Dean Stanton. It was his last movie because unfortunately he died on Sept.15 of the same year. How was working with him?
S.R.: “Lucky” is the most important movie I’ve worked on so far, not only because of the legend himself Harry Dean Stanton (I had already worked with him several times before for a cameo he did in one of my friends’s movies), but also for the presence of “maestro” DAVID LYNCH!!
An “A-team” crew that did this little movie, on low budget and doing it only for Harry. The cinematographer, Tim Suhrstedt, is best known for his work in Little Miss Sunshine. And, in addition, the director John Carroll Lynch and Lisa Norcia as Costume designer (Whiplash is one of the of the movies she’s mostly known for). Not to mention that, for the first time I had my stills and BTS published them internationally and my poster for the movie showed for the first time at the Arclight Cinema. Working with Harry, especially in this movie which was basically about his life was a blessing and the memories will remain with me for the rest of my life. Harry’s diet on set was coffee and cigarettes…and he was 91 years old… He remembered all his lines and also the other actors’ lines!!! He was always cracking jokes, like this one that it’s stuck in my head : “How many producers would it take to screw a lightbulb ?… Let me get back to you” LOL!!
And he would always asked you the etymology of your name, and if you didn’t know he would say “Look it up on your phone so next time I ask you, you will know!”!!
When David Lynch was on set he was so nervous because he wanted “to do good”!!
I could write a book with all of my memories about him!
Q.: You are a member of the SMPSP (Society of Motion Pictures Still Photographers). Can you explain better what it is and why it is so important to be part of it?
S.R.: The SMPSP is a nonprofit honorary organization dedicated to promote and support the art of motion picture still photography. The Society is active also on the promotion of archival preservation of stills pictures shot on set for their historical and cultural importance, something which is very often underestimated. I am so deeply HONORED to be part of this group. I mean, all of the most important and amazing stills photographer in this world, Hopper Stone (my mentor), Jasin Boland, Berry Wetcher, David James, Phil Bray, Justin Lubin, Merie Weismiller Wallace, Melinda Sue Gordon, Kimberly French, Matt Kennedy, Frank Masi, Hilary Gayle, I would like to mention them all!!! Most of them were and are a constant inspiration for my work.
To become a member you have to submit a portfolio of your very best set photography photos. Last year, I experienced how difficult it is to be accepted. They (WE) want the best of the best…. So IT IS A BIG THING for a still photographer, and I still can’t believe I am part of it!!
This is the website: http://smpsp.org Just check it out and you will see the most iconic images in the history of cinema.
Q.: I often see you writing posts about the great importance of giving credits to the photographer when using one of his/her shots which it’s perfectly understandable to me. Why does this happen? Is it maybe because people think that if a photographer posts some pictures in FB or Instagram, he/she is implicitly allowing everybody to use them?
S.R.: I believe that if you are a writer, a singer, a stylist, you would be very upset if you wouldn’t t see your name next to your creation, no? The copyright is very important and I don’t really get mad at people if they use my photos taken from the web. I get mad when journalists or photo editors misspell my name or, even worse, they don’t give you the deserved credit for theimages! I always wonder what kind of enormous effort they have to do to put the right name next to a picture… Seriously!!! I’m pretty sure that Sir Paul McCartney would have something to say if the radio would play one of his songs without saying his name!
Q.: In these past few months, I got in touch with different women working in the art and entertainment business (musicians, film directors, sound engineers, singers/songwriters etc.) and I asked them if it was harder for them getting the deserved respect because they are women. Then, I’m asking you: Is it harder to be a female still photographer if you had to compare opportunities given to female and male photographers?
S.R.: I believe sometimes it is a bit harder for women in general, and in every job. Things are changing but “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna Rock ’n Roll” (AC/DC – quote) In my case, I would say no. Or at least I’ve never realized. I am very funny so they hire me for that 😉
Q.: This column is dedicated to women and therefore it’s time to talk about this project you worked on during the lockdown period and that you called “KEEP ON ROCKING ON COVID19 WORLD”. How did you come up with that idea? And how did you turn it into reality?
S.R.: This horrible pandemic put all of us down on our knees, with restrictions on our freedom, but also gave us the opportunity to look inside ourselves to find the strength to survive, and something good came out. I tried to occupy my time photographing things in my house but then it was pretty boring. Then, I did a project with my Rolleiflex , but it’s still a secret…I was listening to a lot of music and sometimes I would find my self headbanging like a crazy in my underwear or dancing with a broom: Then I realized how liberating dancing on my favorite songs was for me! (For a week straight. It was LIVE AID 1987) It makes you feel good and brand new! So I asked some friends if I could photograph them while they were dancing on their favorite rock songs and that’s it!
Q.: Last but not least: Stefania, how much do you miss Italy?
S.R.: I miss Italy every single day! It’s NOT a cliché that ITALIAN FOOD IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD!! Seriously, as soon as I will reach my goals here in L.A. and I will be more known as a set photographer also in Europe, I will be moving back! There is no place like home! Or maybe not! 🙂 Maybe I will spend six months in Italy and six months in L.A (I love it so much!!)
The Project: “KEEP ON ROCKING ON COVID19 WORLD”
These are the women who have contributed to this project:
ALICE BRACCINI, public relations specialist, founder of Violetta Group.
“Italian born and worldly raised, I believe communication is deeply rooted into our being humans – through our voices and our artistic expressions, from photography to dance and figurative arts, we make life a memorable journey.”
CRY BABY by JANIS JOPLIN
ELISABETTA TEDLA, Human Being/Creativity Connector. Half Italian/half Eritrean, living in LA.
“During this time I was reminded that we are all human beings and our main ‘job’ it to BE, it created a sense of ease in me.
It thought me how to be still and gave me the opportunity to be in touch with myself in a different way.
I don’t think 2020 will be remembered as a bad year, to the contrary, I hope it will bring the necessary changes our society needs. One can only hope, right? Well, I keep on dreaming…”
DONT STOP ME NOW by QUEEN
VICTORIA PALMA, born and raised in Puebla, Mexico.
“On a journey of self-discovery. I believe everything that happens is an opportunity to learn. I used this time to make peace with some aspects of myself I didn’t know I was struggling with. I’m certain we are gonna come back stronger.”
SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRITS by NIRVANA
SILVIA PAGLIARANI, producer. Italian, based in LA, mother of two.
“During the pandemic we took one day at the time. Just thinking about getting through dinner is our goal. My kids help me staying in the moment, to be present for them and definitely not waste my time. They drive me insane and also keep me sane, weird, right?”
LAST NIGHT by THE STROKES
SILVIA FRIGERIO, Project Manager/Interior. Born and raised in Como, Italy.
“… to the WONDERMENT mood on-repeat, to the magic behind it.”
I learned a new time: how to be still, how to be ready…so ready, to embrace the unknown.”
ROCK YOU LIKE A HURICANE by SCORPIONS
KATRINA CASTANEDA, a Filipino-American, working in heritage conservation.
“I feel like this pandemic has taught me how to be more compassionate and honest with myself. It isn’t always easy, but I’m learning to be OK with Tourette’s fits and bad days. And I’m noticing how hard it is for me to pause but mostly how good it feels to stop, dance, and let go.”
ATWA by SYSTEM OF A DOWN
ELLA CANNON, actress. A free-range woman raised in Australia. I have spent so much time chasing life that I forgot what it felt like to stop. I used this time to breathe in the ocean air, to laugh with my family, and I’ve learned that everything I’d been looking for was right there all along.
SHOOT ME ALL NIGHT LONG by AC/DC
CHIARA COXY RODONI, film director and screenwriter. Born in Italy, I was very inspired by this unprecedented moment and the change it carried. It was an opportunity to stop,
listen and connect with humanity on a deeper level. I wrote new stories and created new projects, with a message of love.
IN BLOOM by NIRVANA
VERONICA RADAELLI, producer: Life is unpredictable and not always under our control. After running for years finding myself to stop, breathe and re connect.
Even if isolated, I was never alone
SLEEPING NOW IN THE FIRE by RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
Find out more about Stefania Rosini:
All pictures courtesy of Stefania Rosini