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Roberta Ridolfi

The Rome-born, London-based photographer talks about darkrooms in tree houses and Twin Peaks

Inserted in a natural landscape, far away from studios and artificial lights, a photographer is looking for something special, raw, carefree and genuine - in other words, something dead simple. She has shot for a long list of publications that would make any dignified camera-holder positively green with envy; Jalouse, Dossier Journal, Apartamento, Nylon, The Telegraph and the Guardian, to mention but a few.

My dreams? Travel the world, live in constant sunshine at least for a while, have my own darkroom in a tree house…

In fact, Roberta Ridolfi's dreamy, fresh and atmospheric style has been enrapturing everyone with its hint of 90s appeal, but it took her uncle's old camera for her to really discover her calling. We talk to her about virtues, vices and life.

Dazed Digital: Tell us about yourself. What are your dreams?
Roberta Ridolfi: I was born in Rome but London is my home now. I take photos for a living and I'm usually not very good with interviews like this. I have far too many dreams. Where to begin? Travel the world, live in constant sunshine at least for a while, have my own darkroom in a tree house…

DD: What do you want your work to transmit?
Roberta Ridolfi:
I don't think too much about what I want to transmit with my work but when people say it's fresh, personal and honest that makes me glad because I think I made my point.

DD: How did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
Roberta Ridolfi:
I didn't know, it just sort of happened. I tried my hand at Philosophy first but after a while I realised it wasn't for me, too many assumptions. It nearly drove me crazy (I think I still carry a bit of that with me). That coincided with my uncle giving me his old 70s Nikon which I didn't know how to use but looked so good. I started playing around with it and it all went from there.

DD: There are so many other people trying to make it as photographers, did that ever hold you back?
Roberta Ridolfi:
I try not to think that way and just do my own thing. I wouldn't know what else to do otherwise.

DD: How does your personal life inform your work?
Roberta Ridolfi:
My work and my life go together, it's just one big thing. I need to experience things to be inspired, for me it's not about creating a different world to the one I'm living in. Everything is already here.

DD: What are you best qualities and worst vices as a photographer?
Roberta Ridolfi:
People say I have a good eye for casting and location. I'm instinctive and I know what I don't like. My worst vices… I always lose bits of my equipment during shoots, especially lens caps and I have five lenses. Once somebody had to post it back to me from America. I'm also a nightmare with archiving my work.

DD: What or who inspires you the most?
Roberta Ridolfi:
A lot of different things; mountains, lakes, old summer houses, children - they have the best expressions and poses because they are not preconceived and they make me laugh. Movies, a lot of movies, especially from the 70s. Old family photos. The way light falls, adolescence, and at the moment, the Twin Peaks gold box set.

DD: What's the best advice you were given, and the best advice you can give?
Roberta Ridolfi:
Don't let them (editors, stylists, etc) change what you want to do. And don't compromise. I would pass this on and add: don't think too much about your photos, just shoot.

DD: Is there a particular thing, place or person you would love to photograph?
Roberta Ridolfi:
Liv Tyler circa 1995.

DD: What are you looking forward to this year?
Roberta Ridolfi:
Definitely spending more time away doing my personal projects, going to Lapland, finishing my first self published book and having my own darkroom. I feel good about 2012, I like even numbers.