Pedro Luis Raota is one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. Since his first recognition in 1958, he has won over 150 international awards and honors for his outstanding work in the humanitarian genre. His photographs have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and are included in public and private collections around the world.
He was born on April 26, 1934 in Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña, Chaco province, in a family of farmers. His parents expect nothing more from young Pedro than continuity in working the land. But at a very young age he decided to leave his hometown to discover the world.
He moved to the city of Santa Fe de la Veracruz, which was the first stop on his journey. There he acquired his first knowledge of photography and, according to legend, decided to sell his bicycle to acquire a camera. This is how he began to earn a living: taking photos for passports.
His second stop was in the city of Vilaguay, Entre Ríos province, where he completed his military service. In his free time he accompanies the military photographer Quique Fabra, helps him and learns from him. He created a photography studio with great enthusiasm and began intensive work.
In Vilaguay, Raota received his first awards. He then exhibited his photographs in Buenos Aires and began sending photographs to participate in all the exhibitions he could. In 1966, he won first prize in a photography contest organized by Mundo Hispánico, a magazine from Madrid (Spain), whose theme was “The Life and Customs of the Argentine Gauchos.” This is the first significant award outside the country, although he has sent his pictures, without much luck, to various international salons.
In 1967, at the same time as the Cannes Film Festival, a photography exhibition was held under the title “Unusual Photographs”. Out of 2,500 participants from around the world, he won second prize. Since 1968, the awards and trophies he received began to multiply. In 1968 he won the World Press Photo Photojournalist of the Year award. In 1969, he received the most important award of his career: the prize for the best photojournalist in the world, awarded in The Hague, which allowed him to travel to Europe to receive it. Many more opened doors for him to follow – including the “Condor Trophy” from the Argentine Federation of Photography in Buenos Aires and the “Best Photographer in the World” given in La Hague, Netherlands. He has been invited as a guest of honor to South Africa, the Netherlands, Venezuela and Spain.
In 1972 he won first place at the London International Exhibition of Photographic Art. In 1972, he also won the Charles Pompidou Award in Paris, France and the Charles Kingsley Trophy in the World Photography Competition in 1972 and 1976. In 1975, Raota received the Gold Medal at the International Exhibition of Photojournalism in the United States and more importantly, Pravda 75 in Moscow. This final prize gives him the opportunity to spend 45 days shooting in 28 different countries. A selection of his work from this time is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires. His photographs have been shown worldwide in countless international group exhibitions, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1975, he won the EUROPA-75 World Biennale.
Two books of Raota’s photography have been published in Switzerland. The first, in 1977, was published in five languages. He printed his first portfolio in 1979. The Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris has 60 of his photographs in its collection. His work is inducted into the Photographic Society of America Hall of Fame.
In 1981, Raota founded the Institute of Photographic Art in Buenos Aires and directed the faculty until his death at the age of 52 (March 4, 1986).
He became interested in color photography quite late and edited the “Portfolio for the Gauchos” with 12 photographs that arouse the interest of collectors.
Over the years, Pedro Luis Rabota has developed his own and personal style. His photos with strong light accents, standing out against a dark background, practically become his trademark, recognizable very easily even by a beginner.
Author: Villy Goutova