The Birds and Unlimited Love by Robi Rodriguez (NVU)

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The Birds

Dear Shaded Viewers,

In 2006, Robi Rodriguez was one of the photographers selected for the festival d'Hyeres. At that time he showed "The birds" a love story between an older couple that had been together for the past 40 years.
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Robi studied film at the Art Center in Pasadena, California and on the side as a hobby, he started taking photos. Bob Richardson gave a talk at the Art Center, Robi attended the talk and then Bob Richardson asked Robi if he would  assist him and things took off from there. .

DP: How did it all begin?

RR: As a film student in the art college I was not allowed to use the facilities in the Photography department, especially the Color I applied for a job there which mainly involved cleaning the chemical stains off the floor, but I got my color printing done.

DP: Where did you grow up?

RR: I grew up in a small village outside of La Coruna, in the nortwest of Spain. It was calm, with real good neighbors that looked after each other. My passion growing up was motorcycles, and my weekends were spent riding bikes or playing soccer. I now live in London where the neighbors are more like enemies. But I like the city. I moved here from Los Angeles where I went to college. I thought London would be the right mix of art and commerce. In L.A. I was mainly being asked to take photos of actors, and  though I made all my best friends there, it was time to move on and push myself more.

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The Birds

.DP: How old were you when you took your first pictures and what was the subject?

RR: I started as a hobby when I was 27, very late, while studying Film in L.A.

DP: Who were the first photographers that had a profound effect on you?

RR: Bob Richardson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Nan Goldin, Lewis Baltz, Robert Frank, Guy Bourdin, Stefan Ruiz, William Eggleston, Alexander Rodchenko and  Phillip Lorca de Corcia.

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Unlimited Love

DP: Do you shoot on a daily basis?

RR: No, I don't even carry a camera with me. I prefer to think thoroughly about what I want to shoot. I'm interested in unusaul people, people that I consider beautiful at a different level. And interested in relationships of all kinds, friends, couples, etc…that have intense interactions.

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The Birds

DP: Can you tell me how you met the couple in The Birds and how you got them to trust you enough to allow you to  enter into their private moments?

RR: "The Birds" is a message of hope for younger generations, and focuses on the loving relationship of Anne and Derek Parker, who live in Yorkshire, North England. Together for over forty years they push society's perception of what is socially acceptable for people in their sixties. The images are very intimate and real, and even if we don't see them as sexually attractive, we will hopefully be attracted to the love that they show for each other after a lifetime together-giving the rest of us all hope for the future. I met them in the street, and it took months of convincing for them to allow me to go up to their house and start the project. The images were in my head and written down for a year, so they knew from the beginning what was expected of them…but after my first weekend shooting with them, they accepted me as if I were their family and I gained their trust. From then on, it was easy.

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Unlimited Love

DP: Love seems to be a recurrent theme in your work, can you tell me about your first love?

RR: My first true love is my girlfriend, Paloma, we've been together for 5 and 1/2 years.

DP: Did you suffer any dramatic heart breaks that influenced your approach to photography or film?

RR: I don't know. I'm intense when dealing with people, and maybe that shows in my work. I think that we all suffer a lot in life, we are all in the same boat, and maybe for these reasons I like work that is intense and which has an emotional impact. But I could not tell you exactly what made me go this way.

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Unlimited Love

DP: How did your approach differ from the older couple to the young girls?

RR: They are both the same story, as they deal with strong love. In the case of the girls, it's a different kind of love, as they are sisters. But their relationship is very intense, they need each other in the same way as Anne and Derek.

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Unlimited Love

DP: Who are they and how did you enter into their lives? 

RR: They are my two sisters and the best thing that has happened to my family. They were born and raised in an orphanage in Russia till they were 4 and 6 years old, which is when my parents adopted them and brought them to Spain. They are now 10 and 12. Their names are Ana and Daria.

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DP: I love the clothes did you work with a stylist or were these from their personal closets?

RR: I did this on my own, but with close attention to what pieces I was  using. The project is about showing kid's problems as important as our own, by focusing on the intense relationship of two women, who are played by my sisters. The girls bring their own past experiences into the project, and though I didn't want them dressed as women, it was important that they were not dressed as kids either. I either used some of their clothes, my mother's, my girlfriend's or stuff that I got from vintage stores.

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Unlimited Love

DP: Your photographs seem to be in a series and very cinematic, what is your background in film?

RR: Yes, I studied Film in college and then the photography thing sort of happened as a hobby at first, then by assisting Bob Richardson. When my photos took a narrative approach, my storytelling needs were already fulfilled, so I completely forgot about film.

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Unlimited Love

DP: Do you work with a team on your films? Do you shoot video or film? 

RR: I used to shoot film, never video and my films did also involve realationships, but I never really developed any film work after college. Only now do I feel interested in going back to film after what I've learned with my photography work.

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Unlimited Love

DP: Who are your favorite film directors?

RR: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, David Lynch, Hal Ashby, Francois Truffaut, Bob Rafelson,  the Cohen Brothers, Stanley Kubrick, Terence Malick..

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Unlimited Love

DP: Would you ever consider putting together a book or making a feature film?

RR: Yes to both. "The birds" and "Unlimited Love" will hopefully make it into books.

DP: Can we expect the film, maybe around this series of photos to be submitted for ASVOFF 2? 

RR: Yes, I will start shooting film (video) for "Unlimited Love" in two weeks, and can't wait. Thanks for the offer.

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Unlimited Love

Below is a series that appeared in ANOTHER Magazine by Robi Rodriguez of Nicolle Meyer. "Simon Pury put me in contact with her, he said that I would be right to do a project on her. She only modelled from 1977 till 1981, and never worked again in the fashion industry. She was hesitant to work with me because of the nature of the photos from "The Birds", but she went for it anyway. Many people think that Guy Bourdin's best work was when she modelled for him, and hence the publication of A Message for you, which is two volumes of all his best work with her." said Robi.

NAnother Mag Fall '08 4

NAnother Mag Fall '08 2

NAnother Mag Fall'08 3

Reproduction of any of these images is strictly  forbidden.



Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.