Raphaela Rosella, a scholarship recipient in 2005, came from a small town called Nimbin in New South Wales. It’s a small town with a population of 352 and limited opportunities for young locals. Raphaela was determined to follow her passion of photography, which developed from an early age.
In 2005, her youth worker suggested that she nominate herself for a Youth Off The Streets Scholarship and, although sceptical of her chances, Raphaela would end up with a scholarship to chase her dreams.
“I was overwhelmed and shocked because of the possibilities it was opening up for me,” says Raphaela of winning the scholarship. “Before I even got the scholarship I already planned what I was going to do with the money. I knew I was going to move out of my community and move to Adelaide with my nonna and study photography.”
After moving to Adelaide, she used the scholarship funds to purchase her first digital SLR camera and pay for a photography course at a private college in Adelaide. She graduated in 2007, but not before being a finalist in the 2007 Moran Photography Prize, her very first taste of success and definitely not her last.
Studying photography for the first time had fuelled the fire within Raphaela and there was no turning back. After returning to her home town briefly, she enrolled in a university course in 2009 and enjoyed learning more about her chosen art.
“It was amazing (university), it opened up a whole different world and sparked my passion. I didn’t think it was for me, I only thought it was for rich and smart kids, but coming here and achieving so much, made me realise that anybody could do it,” she said.
Not satisfied with just being at university, Raphaela excelled and was in the top five per cent of her class all the way through her university degree, getting academic excellence awards in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
“You can achieve anything if that’s your passion and you’re determined, you just need to put your mind to it and put your hardship behind you,” she says.
Consistently being recognised for her excellence and racking up awards in 2011, Raphaela realised that she could earn a living from her passion, but that wasn’t the reason behind studying photography.
“At university, studying photography, I was getting really excited about the work that I was making and being recognised through other awards. I think that’s when I started realising there was a future in it (photography). However, there was always a future in it, I didn’t really look at it like getting a job, no matter what: I was going to do the work that I do. I don’t do it for money, I do it because I’m passionate about it,” she said.
A quick scan of her website and you’ll notice, from the list of achievements and awards, that 2012 was a stellar year for Raphaela. The awards and achievements are too numerous to list, but Raphaela has done her best to summarise a great year.
“The most exciting thing in 2012 was winning the SOYA photographic award, which gave me the chance to go to a photography festival in France, the Les Rencontres D’Arles. I did a photography workshop with Alessandra Sanguinetti who is a magnum photographer, so that was definitely a highlight. She was a photographer that I admired and it was my first time overseas. It was very overwhelming and exciting at the same time,” she says.
One award that seemed to elude the talented youngster was the World Press Photo Joop Swart Master Class. Raphaela had been nominated to attend the prestigious class in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2014, she finally received word that she was one of 12 photographers from, around the world, to attend the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. Raphaela describes how she felt, when she found out she was successful.
“I can’t even explain… I was so grateful and shocked at the same time, the possibilities and opportunities that this masterclass is going to open are indescribable. Having six masters critiquing my work and the relationships I’ll build in this master class are just incredible. I just can’t describe how grateful I am to be selected,” she said.
Raphaela is destined for greatness, she has a list of achievements and awards that rival Game Of Thrones in length. She continues to be noticed by the world and is one of the most promising young photographers around, but that doesn’t stop her from following her passion.
“My plans for the future are to just continue investigating the cycle of poverty and how that impacts young women and men in Australia. I’m looking forward to continue doing it. I like to study and I like learning, so I’ll always be trying to improve,” she said.
Exposing the poverty cycle is extremely important work and something that Youth Off The Streets tries to do on a daily basis. We wish her luck with her future endeavours.
Youth Off The Streets’ National Scholarship Program started Raphaela on a course to realise her dream. It is still up to the young person to grab the opportunity and turn it into something wonderful. This is what Raphaela has done and we couldn’t be happier with what she is doing at the moment.
If you would like to sponsor the next Raphaela, then please get in touch with Youth Off The Streets’ National Scholarship Team on 02 9330 3537.