"I truly believe that every person has a beautiful picture inside of them, and it's just really fun for me to figure out how to get to it."
snapshotsInsights from Rosanne Olson
Art and commercial photography
I tend to get hired by people who want my ideas. I think if you look at my work, it has a consistent look to it, sort of soft and artful. I always think of it as a poetic approach; although I am not sure that’s the right way to describe it. I try to find the art in whatever I photograph--sometimes ethereal, sometimes humorous, sometimes mysterious.
Clients and shoots
I feel like I have a curious mind and a curious heart, and I love coming up with things from scratch. I love to collaborate with art directors rather than being approached with a sketch and told this is exactly what we want. People don’t tend to hire me for that. They tend to hire me when they say, “We want something to feel this way. We want to convey a sense of joy, or relationship, passion, or compassion.” So then I take the ideas they are trying to convey and work with them to best achieve their goals. What is it about the subject that makes us feel a certain way? Then I try to capture that on film.
Shooting the New York City Ballet
I started by talking with the dancers about what their feelings were about the company, and tried to translate that into something that’s really special visually, the kind of pictures that would make people at home, who get those flyers in the mail, stop and take a look at them. I got to observe the dancers, pick out the ones I wanted to work with, if they were available, and then work with the other creative people to come up with concepts, locations, costumes, etc. We shot all over Manhattan and Long Island. It was incredible.
Portraits and still-lifes
I love lighting, and I teach lighting, and I also teach portraiture. Let me say this about portraits: I truly believe every person has a beautiful picture inside of them, and it’s just really fun for me to try to figure out how to get to it. Still-lifes? They’re like creating little movies where you’re working with a set, you’re working with lighting, and you’re working with mood, and you’re working with meaning.
The photographer who most inspires me is Irving Penn. I love Irving Penn because he’s in his eighties now, and he’s still working. He has a wide range of interests, and he’s always followed them whether it’s still-life, fashion, portraiture, or whatever. Other than that, my greatest inspirations are painters. I love painting, and I love studying the light in painting, and I use painting to teach lighting in my photography classes. I love Carravaggio. He was the first to bring high key and deep shadow contrast into imagery.
Rosanne Olson Feminine Mystique
Rosanne Olson’s photographs are both delicate and immensely powerful — rather like the lady herself. Unflinchingly, she will not--and cannot--deny her artistic sensibility. It is who and what she is. Born and raised in the wide-open spaces and big sky of Minot, North Dakota, Rosanne came by her artistic inclinations naturally as she fell head over heels for the power of light, the majesty of place, and visual imagery all at once. Painting was her first love but photography was her truest. After college, Rosanne attended graduate school at the University of Oregon and worked for a number of years as a photojournalist for the Eugene Register-Guard. She moved to Seattle, and it was there that she mastered both her art and her craft as she realized that her passion for fine art photography would play an integral role in her approach to commercial photography. Today Rosanne’s client roster is as diverse as the famous market that is the center of her city—a list that ranges from Boeing, Mattel, and Hewlett Packard to the New York City Ballet, Alaska Airlines, and the Seattle Opera. All have benefited from her unique vision, one that combines an uncanny sense of lighting with a magical placement of subject. Ultimately, one is left to wonder only this: What is more graceful and captivating – Rosanne Olson’s photographs or the photographer herself?