Pro Talk
Rosanne Pennella; Casting The Net

The difference is not always skill. Success as a pro shooter takes talent, but, as Rosanne Pennella says, "there are many excellent photographers who cannot make a name for themselves because they cannot figure out how to market themselves and project mastery of their careers."

Eleven years ago Rosanne was an attorney whose first love was not the law. "What I really wanted to do was travel," she says. She combined that desire with an aptitude for photography and took a chance on a career change. Today she's an accomplished travel photographer, a photography teacher--and a savvy marketer of her considerable skills.

All Photos © 2005, Rosanne Pennella, All Rights Reserved

The first thing she did 11 years ago was wait until she thought her work was good enough to make it in the competitive marketplace. And then she devoted herself to attracting the attention of that marketplace. She believed that in the same way she made things happen with an image, she could make them happen in her career by having confidence in herself and control over her marketing efforts.

"I'm astonished at how seamlessly it's all led to where I am now," Rosanne says. "All the steps were there--I worked hard to improve my photography, and I had a plan to develop my name and market myself. But it's amazing to step back and see how individual discrete actions lead one to another. Sometimes it can take a few years, but a little conversation sets the stage for something else."

Some of it could be called networking; other times it was more like netcasting.

For example, the nurse who gives Rosanne immunization shots for her travels called one day to say that a pharmaceutical company was looking for a patient spokesperson for their anti-malarial drug. Rosanne had only good things to say--"the drug worked and had no side affects"--so she agreed to be the spokesperson. An article was written and published. A writer for a Columbia University journalism publication read it and liked the angle about Rosanne's career switch. She interviewed Rosanne and published a story that was read by a television producer who invited Rosanne to be on a show about women who chucked safe, secure, high-paying jobs to chase down their dreams.

Then there was the writing class Rosanne took at the New School in New York City. "I didn't think it was a good class," she says, "so I contacted the dean to explain why and ask if I could drop it but still get a credit. I sent a note on my letterhead. We started talking, and she asked about my work and then said, `Have you ever thought about teaching?' I said, `Sure, that'd be great, I'd love to.' So now I'm teaching photography at the New School."

Today Rosanne is as busy as she wants to be, but she does take time to reflect. "One of the reasons that I am so thrilled with my career and where things have led," she says, "is that there's an amazing sense of purpose and direction in watching plans that were formed years earlier begin to unfold as reality."

And there's also the fascination of following "the uncanny chain of events" that could not possibly have been planned.

Rosanne Pennella is a NikonNet "Legends Behind the Lens" featured photographer. The current "Legends" story and an archive of profiled photographers, including Rosanne, can be found at Rosanne's website is

She believed that in the same way she made things happen with an image, she could make them happen in her career.