Born in Moscow and raised in the United States, photographer Irina Rozovsky captures sensible moments. From Yugoslavia to Russia and Cuba, the photographer’s images are never forced. Day and night, the light is soft, and the moments often tender…How and when did you realize that photography was your own way to create ?

I first began in high school, at 15. I had an extraordinary teacher—he gave me an enlarger to take home for the summer. I set it up in the basement, photographed during the day, printed at night. Photography was a big force in my life and just became part of me and the camera became how I saw and existed in the world. 

How would you describe your photographic aesthetic ? 

I don’t have a defined or set aesthetic. I don’t know if I believe in aesthetic I think I’m a kind of chameleon that photographs a bit differently depending on my setting, my mood, the camera I’m using, and what I want to convey about my subject. Maybe that shiftiness is the aesthetic but I don’t like to think of it in those terms. The word I use with my students is “sensibility.” 

I need to make images that freeze me a bit in time and space. Like I become entranced by a subject, as if it’s speaking and through the camera I’m listening. I also look for spontaneity, something out of my control.  

Once I finish a body of work it’s hard for me to really see it as mine anymore. It kind of takes on a life of its own. I don’t know if the word is proud—but I’m sort of amazed by the circumstances that allowed me to make the photographs that I did—alone in foreign countries, driving from place to place. That all seems far in the past now. 

How do you manage to create authentic images ? 

Because most of my photography is in the “real” world—more so earlier, less so these days, there is always this dance with chance, luck, serendipity. If those factors are right, if chance shows up and I am ready, then an image comes of it. I can only hope to make a good image, I can’t force it to happen. I think photography, at its core, is a very surreal and artificial practice. If I can manage to peel back the surface layer of what things look like, and infuse the image with a sense of life, then it might feel, as you say, authentic. 

What inspires you the most ? 

I’m inspired by music, driving and looking, my daughter, and the work of some other artists, past and present.