Raafi Riveroimages and ideas

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Raafi Rivero is a filmmaker and photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. Click here for professional inquiries.

These missives have been posted at varying intervals since 2006 when “moblogging” was a thing. Please explore work and ideas here, elsewhere, or on the social platform of your choice:

#72hrsBK
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This shot is from before the screening of Rock Rubber 45s last night in Central Park.

When I was in college there was an amazing scene on campus. A kind of pan-ethnic people-of-color thang that looked like Heaven to me. But once I got out in the “real world” I couldn’t find anything else like it. I spent years looking for bars, clubs and events that resembled the simple, functional way that people I knew from different backgrounds were able to hang out. People would say, “the real world isn’t like that.” They’d tell me to stop looking for that place.

Rock Rubber 45s is the story of one person’s life. Bobbito’s life, his ups and downs, heartbreaks and successes. And yet, onscreen in interviews, **talking**, you see a black woman, asian woman, white woman, latin woman, black man, asian man, white man, latin man. You see the rainbow. You see people. Not as part of some cookie-cutter, paint-by-numbers scheme, but because those are the people who were there. Those are the people we needed to tell the stories. I don’t know if anyone will notice or even care that the film is constructed out of such a disparate group of voices. But I noticed, and it matters to me.

Coming to Central Park for the screening, I knew that scene would show up in force, in full color. The scene I’d been looking for since college, the scene you’d find at APT and Bar Sputnik and just a handfull of other places. I wasn’t disappointed. This is not to say that any one scene actually *is* a panacea. There are the trappings, the annoyances, the quirks. But, damn. I bet this crew has a better chance of saving the world than most.


UpdateRock Rubber 45s was just chosen as an NYTimes Critics Pick! The film has its theatrical premiere at the Metrograph this week and is scheduled for a run at the Maysles Documentary Center uptown in July. I’ll be doing a post-screening Q&A July 10th.


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Over the past year or so I’ve had the privilege to serve as the editor for the feature-length documentary Rock Rubber 45s. The film tells the life story of iconic New Yorker (and one of my personal heroes) Bobbito Garcia, aka Kool bob Love, who directed it as well. I think it’s an important story about perseverance and following your intuition. It was an inspiration to wake up each day and figure out how to help best tell Bobbito’s unique story. The soundtrack is killer, too.

The film had its US Premiere at the Kennedy Center in DC and plays in New York for the first time at SummerStage. For most of my career, I’ve wanted to make intelligent filmed content targeted at a hip-hop audience. In just the past few months I’ve been lucky to have a hand in two projects with just that aim. Take a look.


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Tongues were suddenly wagging on the DC playgrounds. That was the immediate impact of Michael Jordan. Every school recess was an opportunity to play basketball for fifteen minutes. It went without saying. And then out of nowhere, we all played ball with our tongues out. Especially if you were driving on a kid and knew you could score on him. This is not the reason that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time, but it is a fact.

Growing up, the inevitability of Jordan’s Bulls teams winning the championship felt unfair. He won so much that we wanted to storm off in a huff and complain to our mothers. And yet, on the court, we’d attempt to soar in Jordan’s dunk pose even if the apex of our leaps stopped a good six inches short of the rim. He was our standard bearer. There was no shame in failing to replicate his moves perfectly.

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It happened. My movie, 72 Hours: a Brooklyn Love Story? is out there in the world! Buy or rent a copy now on Amazon, iTunes, and YouTube (among others!) – we’re also OnDemand via most cable providers. Check local listings, ha, and Thank You so much for your support along the way. I’m beaming.


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Here’s an end of Summer loosie I never got around to posting. The whine of dirt bikes in the distance is something I associate with Brooklyn. I still haven’t captured the photo I want of the dudes screaming past but this one’ll do for now.


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Striding off the plane and toward the Milwaukee Film Festival won’t be like heading to L.A. a year ago, having barely slept and giddy for a date with destiny. The premiere of a director’s first feature film will always be special, mine certainly was. I’m not coming to Milwaukee a seasoned vet either, more of an early-mid-career type of vibe. In a snatch of time before putting my phone into airplane mode I learn that the first two screenings have sold out of advance tickets. On the other end of the flight I learn that a driver named Campion is waiting to pick me up near the Harley Davidson store in the terminal, the first of many pleasant surprises.

This year has been difficult. I have wrestled with change in my business and personal relationships. A week ago I turned 40, a natural moment for both celebration and reflection. What harbingers will five days on Lake Michigan offer?
 
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These photographs were all shot from behind the subjects. Three of them are backlit.

In the film The Harder They Come a character uses the exclamation, “[B]ackside!” to express surprise at seeing Jimmy Cliff’s character Ivan, a fuguitive, hanging out in a photo studio. He says it once again to close the scene. “Backside!” I’ve always wanted to say that when caught off-guard. But with the Jamaican accent. Unfortunately, bad Jamaican accents are a bit of a pet peeve, and mine is terrible. So I probably won’t ever scream, “backside!” when I’m surprised. I can take pictures of people’s backs, though. Do I get credit for that?


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I saw this frame while on a location scout for an unrelated project. One of those shots that you can’t wait to return home to see if it’s in focus.


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Tune in Saturday 11 February at 3pm to Work x Work on air. I’ll be moderating a talk called Blurred Colors in the City.

I’m excited to be joined by the photographer Andre D. Wagner, and Executive Director of Audio for Fusion Mandana Mofidi. The hour will explore issues of race and cultural diversity in documenting our cities. Stream here. Or, better yet, come by the Wythe Hotel to hear the talk Live.

 


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