Anna-Rhesa Versola joins the Chatham Studio Tour for the first time this year. Resilience and reinvention are key themes for Rhesa, both at home and in her work.
“I was born in Manila, Philippines and was a toddler when my parents brought me and my brother to the United States,” she explains. “My dad was completing his medical training in psychiatry in Raleigh, NC when Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, preventing our return. My parents decided we would build our lives here,” she recalls. Rhesa grew up in the area and picked up a camera for the first time when she was a senior in high school.
She attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill anticipating a career in medicine but that changed when she walked in to The Daily Tar Heel newsroom. She graduated with a journalism degree and went on to become a newspaper reporter for The Dallas Times Herald, Charleston Post-Courier, and Raleigh News & Observer mostly chasing crime stories and breaking news.
Rhesa then earned a Duke graduate degree that combined Cultural Anthropology and Health Policy. She began working in the medical and pharmaceutical industry and spent another set of years chasing different stories:
I interviewed HIV-positive pregnant women for research. I photographed families and medical facilities in the West Indies with editors from National Geographic and The Smithsonian Institute for a project through UNC-CH. I spent a summer in Costa Rica interviewing women about barriers to childbirth services. My final master’s project was Cultural Barriers to Health Care Access among African and Latin American Women in Durham.
After a two-year treatment plan for breast cancer, Rhesa turned to photography as part of her recovery process. She now works as an independent photographer and producer, primarily with a Chapel Hill-based Nikon Ambassador. Rhesa produces a PBS online series called “Chasing Frames with Tamara Lackey” which features inspiring people who transform lives, protect our planet, and rescue those in need (https://chasingframesshow.com/).
Rhesa uses analog and digital photography to capture the spirit and energy of people she meets and enjoys covering events with a photojournalistic style.
“I love creating visual stories in a single frame,” she explains. “I want to show people in their spaces whether in natural landscapes or an urban environment.” Her photos sell from $3.50 for individual note cards to $600 for large canvas prints. Her work has been published widely in papers, magazines, and shown on HGTV’s Love It or List It series. Her work can be seen on her website: www.versolaphotography.com.
Art-lovers who come to the 2020 Chatham Studio Tour will have a unique experience to view Rhesa’s insightful photographic world.