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INTERVIEW WITH … ROZA VULF

Researched by Roberta Pastore

ROZA VULF

Roza Vulf is a self-taught artist and photographer born in Vilnius, Lithuania. Her interest in photography roots back to her teenage years. From a very early age her dream was to become a photojournalist; however life took a different turn. She had travelled the world and lived in Poland and Germany. Eventually settling in Rome, Italy where she has picked up her camera once again with a passion to shoot streets.

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Going back in time, how did your passion for photography and how you facing in the professional world?

Thinking back I was simply following my childhood dream of one day to become a photojournalist. My family gave me a profound literary and artistic education, which led me to photography. I was using a Russian made Zenit MT-1 camera, which was one of the best things on the Soviet market back then and also used to have a dark room in the bathroom for as long as I can remember. I even had an internship with a local newspaper “Czerwony Sztandar”. However that did not last and I have dedicated many years of my life to my children and various jobs to support my family. It was my son who gave me my first DSLR a few years back, and that is when I started taking pictures again. A long break to restart a hobby and I guess it is not a hobby anymore, but a lifestyle since I start and end the day with it… every day.

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How do you manage the use of color and b / w in your photos?

We do not see the world in B&W so I feel colour is a natural and preferable way for me to express my vision. Nevertheless, I do use B&W, but much less. B&W is an imaginary world and with proper conversion everything looks good in it: landscapes, movie stars, people and streets. So I find it much more stimulating to spot just the right colour palette to portray “the situation”.

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What type of machine you use to shoot?

The past few years I have been using Canon 400D with various lenses, but turned to a FUJI X100S 12 months ago, which I find  an excellent camera for the street and easy to work with. I have recently picked-up film once again. My next camera would probably be an analog.

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What determines the success or failure of a photo?

There are no set formulae for the actual process. However when a “moment” is captured at a particular point in time to reflect an emotional or epigrammatic story which a viewer can apprehend –it’s a success, all the rest for me is a failure.

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When you take, you have an image in mind? Projects the finished image before the implementation or your pictures are the result of a reflection in post-production? 

I never plan what I should focus on. The only thing I anticipate are the fine details of the surrounding environment, in one day the street is full of light or geometry, in another – sentiment.  In my opinion when the result of the picture is a reflection of post production it does not belong to street photography anymore. There is a very minimal amount of post production involved in my images. If I have to spend long time on it – it was not a successful image.

What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

I belong to a group of self-taught artists and photographers. Books, photography sites, workshops, meeting new photographers, hearing their feedback have all been great stepping stones on my learning curve. I admire the works of many contemporaries and, of course, the titans like Vivian Maier, Robert Doisneau, Helen Levitt and Saul Leiter, to name but a few. It is a real treat to see their work, but the inspiration comes to me only from the streets.

You take photos into the streets, how react the subjects of your shots? 

Usually they are not nervous. I’m always trying to be as invisible as possible and also I often shoot “from the hip”. Paradoxically, the closer you get to a subject the more invisible you become. This sounds somewhat daring, but as long as the street becomes a second home eventually you give in to walking with your own guard down. In some rare cases a simple smile can wipe away any tension after they notice their picture being taken.

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What is your relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots?

I have a very personal relationship with the street, but not with my subjects. I love to be alone on the streets surrounded by the raw emotion of the stranger. My mind is open to the unexpected and my gut feeling takes me somewhere always as I am fully susceptible to the surroundings. As Pasteur says “In the fields of observation chance favours only the prepared mind.” I never speak with people in my shots. I respect their privacy. This is just my vision of someone or something that takes my attention. Some images are “staged” in a way I would imagine a story and find subjects to be in it by chance. Therefore there are no titles. Everyone has their own story to imagine.