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Storytelling the Old-School Way


Rosie Fodera uses her Tamron 35-150mm VC OSD zoom lens to create photojournalistic portraits.


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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Rosie Fodera




When Rosie Fodera takes a portrait, her goal is to create a classic photo that makes the viewer wonder about the story behind it. “My style is very photojournalistic,” the Long Island photographer says. “That’s why I especially appreciate the more candid pictures I’m able to capture. They’re the types of photos that make you want to sit around the table with family and look through them together, which not as many people do these days. That’s also why I’m a big proponent of printing your photos—it’s just not the same to gather around a laptop or smartphone.”

Rosie’s latest addition to her gear bag is the Tamron 35-150mm VC OSD zoom lens, a dedicated portrait lens that allows her to work quickly and efficiently, especially during her sessions with children. “If I’m taking pictures of older kids or teens, to capture those candids I adore, I’ll simply ask my subjects to do what they normally do and pretend I’m not there,” she says. “With younger kids, I’ll often engage them in a game to help them relax and have fun.”

Either way, Rosie has to be prepared for spontaneous action, and that 35-150mm lens is critical to her for exactly that reason. “I can’t constantly be switching lenses when working with kids,” she says. “I’d miss dozens of shots in one session. I also love this lens because I’ve noticed a warmer, softer tone to my portraits since I started using it, which really complements my subjects.”

© Rosie Fodera
35-150mm (150mm), F/5.6, 1/250th sec., ISO 1000
Click image to view larger

In terms of location, Rosie is always on the lookout for rustic or weathered scenes to serve as her backdrop. “I think it adds so much character,” she says. “When I went to Sicily, there was a town called Santa Margherita di Belice that had remained virtually untouched since it was hit by an Earthquake in 1968. Doors were still broken, windows were still shattered—but for me, it was an amazing place to shoot.”

Location, and that 35-150mm lens, were key for taking photos of her stepdaughter Isabella’s Sweet 16. “This was at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, Long Island,” Rosie says. “It’s such a spectacular place to use as a backdrop, because the cathedral is so grand and awe-inspiring. And being able to zoom in and out with the 35-150mm offered me the flexibility I needed to capture closeups of Isabella, portraits of her that incorporated more of the cathedral’s architecture, and then wider-angle images that allowed me to set against the entire structure and landscape.”

© Rosie Fodera
35-150mm (150mm), F/5, 1/320th sec., ISO 400
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© Rosie Fodera
35-150mm (73mm), F/5, 1/200th sec., ISO 400
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© Rosie Fodera
35-150mm (41mm), F/5, 1/320th sec., ISO 320
Click image to view larger

Using her camera as a storytelling tool also allows Rosie to showcase relationships in her group shots, whether it’s a photo of three brothers clowning around, or family gathered around her young son at that Sweet 16. “That photo really shows the joy of the day,” she says. “The smile on my little guy’s face says it all. Plus, the theme of the party was Great Gatsby, which you can pick up on in some of their attire.”

© Rosie Fodera
35-150mm (128mm), F/5, 1/320th sec., ISO 500
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© Rosie Fodera
35-150mm (41mm), F/9, 1/160th sec., ISO 400
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That previous photo was also in black and white, and Rosie explains it’s a traditional look she often finds herself drawn to, often by instinct. “My parents are first-generation Italian American, and so I find myself inspired by that Old World feel,” she says. “They came from Sicily with all of their photos on this beautiful deck-card stock, like nothing else you’ll see these days. I was so impressed with the artistry of the photographers back then, especially because they often had just one roll of film to work with and no idea how the images would come out until they developed them.”

Rosie can’t always explain what makes her think a portrait would lend itself to black and white. “Sometimes it’s simply a feeling,” she says. “Like that young man you see here with the jacket flung over his shoulder. He’s an actor, and he wanted headshot-like photos he could distribute. There was just something that made me feel like he’d look stunning in black and white. The same for the photo of that other young man you see here, sitting in the doorway. His eyes just worked the camera, and with that hair and those cheekbones—he reminded me of a young Frank Sinatra. I don’t know if I would’ve drawn out that same feeling with a color photo. He was just an old soul.”

© Rosie Fodera
35-150mm (107mm), F/5.6, 1/200th sec., ISO 800
Click image to view larger

© Rosie Fodera
35-150mm (136mm), F/4.5, 1/250th sec., ISO 800
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To see more of Rosie Fodera’s work, go to www.fotocouture.com.






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