Alex RotasPhotographer | Writer | Speaker
I live in Bristol, a city I love, having arrived via London, the city of my birth and childhood, Cambridge, Athens and Somerset. My father was Greek and my mother still is British, so I have dual nationality. In my younger days I played tennis for Greece (with more pleasure than success, I should add).
I studied at Cambridge University, the University of Western Michigan and Bath Spa University and have degrees in geography, special education and visual culture. I’ve taught school kids geography, pre-school deaf children language skills, university students visual theory and spent a challengingly enjoyable few years developing palliative care training programmes in a hospice. My doctoral thesis was on the work of visual artists who have arrived in Europe as refugees and asylum seekers. It reads bizarrely but as a lived life it felt seamless, with one thing just leading on to the next.
My academic interest in sports studies began about 5 years ago when I was surprised one day by what I was seeing as a tennis fan trawling through the websites of elite women players. (For what I saw and for other academic links, including my PhD, go to my academic website www.alexrotas.org.uk currently also under reconstruction, rather like its owner, so please bear with me). I started turning my attention to older competitive sportsmen and women, partly because I was becoming one myself. From looking at visual images, critiquing them and bemoaning the absence of positive pictures of older people focused and actively absorbed in their lives, I found myself thinking that these were the kinds of pictures I’d like to try to take and make myself.
Four years ago I was lucky enough to find the best photography teacher in Bristol – Rachel Sokal who took me from a standing start to where I’m at now. I’ve been learning not only about photography, but also about what were the new-to-me sports that I’ve been shooting. I’m not sure I can call myself an old pro yet but the faces on the masters athletics circuit are becoming familiar to me now, as mine is perhaps becoming to them. I’m learning about the lives of these extraordinary men and women I photograph who continue to compete in their seventh, eight, ninth and tenth decades. Some are becoming friends. Like them, I am starting to arrange my life around the next big championship meet. My photography bag gets heavier and heavier as I acquire new kit. I am totally hooked – both on photography and on masters athletics. Loving it.
I play tennis for Avon Vets and am an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Journalism, Media & Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. I’m grateful to my practice as a follower of Zen Buddhism. I have three grown-up children and three grandchildren who live in Greece plus two more grandchildren from my very special ‘adoptive’ family on the Isle of Wight.