Black and White

I started photographing in 1970, when I moved to Rome from Modena, after graduating from the University of Bologna. I experimented with various careers (film critic, actress, TV producer) until 1974, when I decided to become a professional photo-journalist.  I had been living in the United States since 1972. I worked in Black & White for a few years, then I switched to color. A 1979 issue of California Living featured my work.  My photographs were published in several magazines around the world.  I stopped accepting photo assignments in 1990, I continued to write interviews with actors and film directors as a Hollywood Correspondent.
Here’s my first photo essay Ladies in Ladies Rooms, 1974.
And my last photo essay Teenage USA, 1986.
Photo coverage of the LA Knockers from 1976 to 1984.
Photojournalism California Living 1979
Summer Fashion layout 1980
Travel photography from 1981 to 1986.

For more see Elisa Leonelli website

In 1970 I visited a commune in the countryside near Rome, where some of my hippie friends had gone back to the land, raising chickens, pigs, lambs and rabbits.

Child (c) 1971

wife (c) 1971

In 1971 I traveled to Israel where I worked as script supervisor on an American film produced by Paul Maslansky “Big Truck and Poor Clare” with Peter Ustinov and Francesca Annis. I also took photographs.

Jerusalem (c) 1971

Camel, Israel (c) 1971


Edmund Teske

In Los Angeles I studied photography with various teachers at UCLA and Art Center. My first class was with Edmund Teske at his Hollywood studio in 1973, he was a truly inspiring Bohemian artist. Here’s a couple of portraits I took of him while attending one of his famous field trips in 1976.

Edmund Teske 1976

Edmund Teske 1976

Vietnamese Refugees

In 1975 I started doing some photo essays related to current events, when I photographed for Newsweek the Vietnamese refugees at Camp Pendleton, California, May 8, 1975, after the fall of Saigon.

Camp Pendleton 1975

Camp Pendleton 1975

Vietnamese refugee 1975

Insect Fear

Another influential artist was Robert Heinecken, director of the Photography Department at UCLA.  To impress him, while taking his class in 1975, I conceived of a photo sequence in the style of Duane Michaels, INSECT FEAR.  It’s like a nightmare where a woman sleep-walks in the night, runs to the kitchen, she is confronted with a giant grasshopper, hides inside a cabinet.  My friend Gabriella posed as an alter-ego for myself.  Original prints of the 4 photos were included in an artist portfolio magazine edited by my friend Eve Babitz, Manifesto LAX, cover art by Jon Van Hamersveld.

Insect Fear 1 (c) 1975

Insect Fear 2 (c) 1975

Insect Fear 3 (c) 1975

Insect Fear 4 (c) 1975

Sleeping Beauty

This is part 2 of a 1975 photo sequence I conceived as a reversal of the fairytale happy ending, a different way of looking at relationship between men and women in the feminist 70s. 1-The princess (Anselma Dell’Olio) with the long dark hair pricks her finger on a knitting needle, and 2-she falls asleep (Sleeping Beauty), then 3-the blond Prince Charming (Tom Ingalls) kisses her, and 4-he turns into a Frog (The Frog Prince).Anselma Dell'Olio as Sleeping Beauty, Frog Prince sequence. December 1975

LA photographers

In Los Angeles, during the 1970s, I met many photographers who became my friends and gave me invaluable advice.  One was Yoram Kahana, who still photographs movie stars to this day, another was Ave Pildas who continues to work on his art photography.
Here are portraits I took of them in 1976.

Yoram Kahana

Ave Pildas

New Orleans

In 1976 I traveled to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I took some reportage photography in color, and created some art photos, inspired by the ghostly images of Clarence John Laughlin, a photographer we actually met in person during our visit.

New Orleans (c) 1976

New Orleans mask (c) 1976

New Orleans ghost (c) 1976