Roy Rossovich, FSF: Portraying Life through Fashion and Cinematography
I knew what I wanted to create and it was such a long process with painting and sculpture, so through trial and error I found photography.
Roy Rossovich, photographer, cinematographer, and, most recently, 2016 Hasselblad Masters winner in the fashion and beauty category, explores the narrative form in his work. His inspiration for “Heartland,” the series of photos he produced for the Hasselblad Masters Book – the company’s “Hall of Fame” – came from the desire to tell his story:
“The more of a story you can put into your work to create concrete ideas, the better the results you get. I wanted to take a cinematic approach to this project and make a storytelling piece. To do this, I realized, I’d need to revisit my roots.”
So Rossovich assembled a team, half from Stockholm the other half from America, and made his way to Los Angeles, where he was born. The images turn the Southern California landscape into a stage where cues from American cinema combine with Rossovich’s “Nordic aesthetic,” allowing the top Scandinavian designers and brands used in the images to dynamically clash with the world of his youth.
“We hit the ground in Los Angeles, having decided to revisit important spots of my growing up. I basically just went and knocked on doors. I went to the house where I was born, knocked on the front door and that family let me in. I told them the entire story and they were blown away, thinking it was super fun so they said ‘no problem’ and we shot the first few images from the project there.”
They continued on to Ojai, the Southern California town where Rossovich grew up:
“There were some very welcoming and warm people; it was a fantastic experience to go back there. We visited my high school and shot out on the football pitch with the Friday night lights.”
The final project consisted of 20 images featuring three models, shot in 15 locations in only three days. The photos, which have attracted lots of attention, will go on public exhibition in Stockholm on 24 November at Bumblebee Studio (Engelbreksgatan 21, 11432 Stockholm).
Rossovich was born in America, but moved to Sweden on his own when he was 16. There he studied graphic design, painting, and sculpture, but realized he needed to find a medium he was comfortable with:
“Those forms weren’t quite immediate enough for me. I knew what I wanted to create and it was such a long process with painting and sculpture, so through trial and error I found photography.”
After graduating from art school he found work in the fashion industry as an assistant. The experience he gained in both still photography and film helped him get his career off the ground, and, balancing these two skill sets, he eventually formed a production company called Happyphant along with his colleague Anderas Alfredsson.
“I started by pushing the stills because it was easier to work alone and get results, but filmmaking has always intrigued me because it’s much more about family and working in a team.”
Earlier this year, Rossovich was admitted into the Swedish Society of Cinematographers. Despite the recognition and opportunities his achievements have brought him, he enjoys working on a mix of projects with his in-house production company Happyphant, both as a photographer and cinematographer depending on the day.
“It’s nice to be acknowledged for pushing your own agenda—trying to expand on your own creative ideas and bringing talented people together to work toward the common goal of creating beautiful pieces.”
An example of his work with Happyphant can be seen in his collaboration with Adobe Creative Connection in this story about designer Petra Gardefjord.
“We wanted a documentary feel to make the Petra project natural and realistic. We chose handheld cameras and natural light because a lively environment helps when you’re working with kids, who don’t have the longest attention span when it comes to grown ups telling them what to do!”
Completing ambitious pieces like the Gardefjord film and “Heartland” so quickly has become second nature to Rossovich and his team, who make use of the full Adobe Creative Cloud. He has found that during his 17-year relationship with this software, actively engaging with the system keeps him aware of new tricks.
“iPad apps for the Creative Cloud allow you to experiment by playing with color, cropping, and framing, and getting a sense of what we’re working with on set. Especially with camera integration using Wi-Fi you can easily parlay pictures into the iPad. That’s become very cool.”
Gabriella Bloomgarden poses in Heartland at Roy’s old High School, Nordhoff for the Hasselblad Masters book.
Thanks to the recognition from winning the Hasselblad award, he receives a great deal of feedback on social media and he considers it important to spend time sharing advice with other creatives.
“There’s so much work being done and great materials are constantly being produced. Many get overwhelmed and give up, so if you can help inspire people and keep them motivated, that’s an important thing to do.”
With lots of new work in the pipeline including personal still photography art projects and a couple of feature films on the horizon, Rossovich is making the most of the opportunities available to him, exploring new opportunities to engage with the world using camera language, light, and sound.
As Rossovich says, “having too much to do is a good problem to have.”