Roger Rossel has been photographing for over 10 years, taking pictures of stage arts, working with both companies and solo performers from all around the globe and has been published and exhibited worldwide. His personal work is based on identity, privacy and intimacy, working mainly with analogue cameras, developing the negatives and printing in the darkroom himself.
How do you choose your models?
I am always looking for interesting people, key points of my work are closeness and intimacy so there has to be some kind of personal connection between the two sides of the camera. I want to have a good time while shooting, be comfortable and feel that the other person also is. I work a lot with friends and people I know, I like the feeling of hanging out with a camera around.
Apart form it, I receive quite regularly collaboration proposals through different networks (flickr, modelmayhem) and sometimes I also ask people I find somehow special. To me it is more about attitude in front of the camera than simply because they are «beautiful».
Is it easy or difficult to find models to pose nude?
I don’t find it so difficult, and for me it’s not a must, except for some of my projects.
To me nudity is not the goal, but a way to get more honest portraits. I understand some people have personal issues with nudity, and in that case is more important that the person is relaxed and comfortable during the shooting.
Why do you usually choose to depict nudity in your work? Do you believe nude is still a taboo?
There are several reasons, the main one is that nudity makes us more equal. We all -usually- have the same stuff, maybe bigger, smaller, towards this side or the other, but at the end it’s the same. We give out so much information with the clothes we choose and how we wear them, we contextualize ourselves through them. Without this social skin we have no “protection”, it’s just us. I find this is an easier and nicer starting point to portray someone.
I don’t believe nudity is a taboo in this part of the world anymore, specially if we compare it with others, it’s everywhere (TV shows, films, advertisements…). But I do have a problem with how the body is depicted. Not only because of the usual cheap sexual objectification of the person, also because what is most of the time shown are digital creations, following senseless “ideals” which can easily bring frustration and complexes to a lot of people.
What is your usual working process when you shoot?
I like to take it easy, always try to shoot in people’s place or at mine, somewhere we can feel comfortable. I don’t like complicated light settings or staged backgrounds, it is the way it is. First we drink some coffee, chat a bit and when we feel like we start taking pictures. I like to improvise, I don’t like telling people what to do, I want them to act and move freely. I know sometimes that can be confusing but for me shooting is a visual dialogue. The meeting point of what one side gives and the other one gets is the image that comes out.
I work mainly with analog cameras, usually old and slow, so there are a lot of pauses during the shooting, to change the camera, film, etc. If we are having fun, a shooting can last several hours, even a whole day.
And music. Music should be always on.
Where do you get inspiration and ideas from?
From several sources, from music to a stupid joke that came out with friends, obviously other photographers’ work, dance, theater, cinema, of course from daily life… everything can be inspirational I guess.
How does Berlin shape you and your work?
I’ve been living in Berlin for 6 years, but I’ve been visiting it quite regularly since 2001. I really like it, even if it can be hard sometimes and there are a lot of things going on which I dislike, I feel like home here.
The city is so alive, so many people from all around the world coming and going, the cultural offer is amazing and so diverse, and at the same time the rhythm is quite calm. For sure it depends a lot on what you do, where you live and the people around you, but my experience is very positive so far.
I come from Barcelona which can be a quite stressful city, so since I moved here I slowed down, I now can be more focused on my personal work and find the time to experiment and try out new things.