Profile : Manny Rocca
Photographer & Photojournalist
had a foot on both sides of the Atlantic.
Born in Seville in 1957 to Spanish parents, Manny spent his formative years in Sevilla (his mother’s home town) when his parents moved back to Spain but in his late teens, with the advantage of dual citizenship, he returned to the USA.
In 1980 he took up a position with The Washington Post, and later The Washington Times. It was under the auspices of these prestigious newspapers that he was able to develop and broaden his photojournalistic and camera skills. Here, too, he learnt all the aspects of the art and production of pre-digital photography. I note on viewing his considerable body of work, however, that he has clearly retained an enduring affection for the rich culture of Spain: in particular, Sevilla and the region of Andalucia.
Manny’s Press Pass gave him access to some of the most prestigious political and social events of the era, allowing him to capture many significant figures in history. At the height of his career he returned to Spain with his wife, also a native of Sevilla, and has continued his passion for photography sometimes taking employment as a contract photographer, but largely freelancing.
Subsequently, and with his career now spanning nearly four decades, much of his work has collected accolades on both sides of the Atlantic with its subject matter being photographed in diverse locations, such as Europe, the USA, North Africa and the Middle East.
Typical of pre-digital photographic artists his work is distinctive, his style unique. If it is not capturing a moment in history, it is capturing human emotion, evoking the human condition in its many forms. Another area of interest for him has been the changes that Spain has undergone since the days of its Dictator, Franco, and the country’s subsequent rush to modernisation.
Much of his contract work while in Spain has been with its Olive and Wine Industry. His distinctive photographs capture the produce, production and humanity that combine to support these major, historic Spanish industries and have won him many awards. His most recent publication is El Reino del Olivo (The Realm of the Olive), a collaboration with the renown Spanish poet Hector L. Baz Reyes. This beautifully evocative example of his work was sponsored by the Caja Rural de Jaén.
Yet another of his cultural (photographic) interests is the contentious, yet colourful and dramatic art of Bullfighting, while the many splendidly colourful religious and local cultural festivals of Spain provide abundant material for his photographic palette. His photos have appeared in many print media, such as: The Daily News-Newspaper, The Nation Newspaper, Las Americas, People Magazine, Insight Magazine, Cambio-16 Magazine, Tiempo Magazine, Hello Magazine, European Magazine, Boston Globe Newspaper, The Washingtonian, Bunte Magazine, Regardie’s Magazine, Gong Verlag, Hispanic Magazine, Dossier Magazine, Where Magazine, Guitar Review, Andalucia Economica, Guitarrista Magazine, JondoWeb, La Razón, Revista Guitarrista, Revista Paradores, El Semanal and more.
While now reaching retirement age, his enthusiasm for the art has not diminished and he has embraced the age of modern digital photography. But while photography was his first love, it never prevented him from taking up other arts. Perhaps following in his mother’s footsteps (a professional Flamenco dancer), he has an unbridled enthusiasm for Flamenco. He became both a highly accomplished guitarist and singer of that form of music and has performed professionally in many European countries and in the USA. This also opened doors for him photographically, enabling him to capture the art of leading flamenco artists on film.
Manny Rocca’s career has certainly been colourful, and a lot of that is reflected in the body of his work.
Author: J Cedric Watkins June 2016 - Zamoa Productions