a street photography journey celebrating the colourful darkness.
echoes turn colourful

Colorida (Portuguese for colourful) is a photography series born from both the love I have for the street photography genre and my deepest fears in practicing this art form during the nighttime due to a traumatic experience of the past.

A combination that allowed me to experiment and discover new and unique perspectives, only visible during the late hours and, more importantly, gave me the chance to understand how colourful and beautiful being in the darkness can be.

read the full story

i shoot in the night because i am afraid of the dark.

I will never forget that night. The memories of returning home, safe and sound, and hugging my mom, in silence and in tears, are still very present and strong. Earlier in that evening, for 1 hour in the heart of São Paulo - Brazil, I had a gun pointed to my head.

I was visiting friends and we were chatting about anything and everything. I brought up that I had bought a new car and we celebrated. We all decided to go check the car. We were born and raised in that city, so we were used to being carefull, which meant that it was supposed to be a quick check, just five or ten minutes at most. I was joined by two friends and the boyfriend of one of them. We got inside of the new ride, that still carried that characteristic smell of something that's brand new. Happy moments! But well, we weren't carefull enough.

A young woman approached my car window, asking for directions to a distant neighborhood. Her unusual request (it felt pretty random considering where it was) raised some red flags, but I provided possible directions nonetheless. In hindsight, it became clear that she was scouting, assessing the potential of her victims. Moments later, a man knocked on the window. The barrel of his gun was unmistakable.

I cautiously rolled down the window, fully aware that any sudden movement could lead to tragedy. I tried to offer him the car, alerting him that we didn't have our wallets with us - it was a quick check, remember? - but it didn't change his mind. "We're going for a ride", he said. A chilling experience known as an express kidnapping in Brazil, where victims are taken to ATMs to withdraw cash before, hopefully, being released.

Inside the car, we were all crammed together. I was in the driver's seat, with the man holding a gun to my head behind me, guiding me through the dark streets to an unknown location. The windows of the car were tinted, preventing anyone on the outside from seeing what was truly happening. We were all in constant communication (to not say panic) and the tension could be felt in everyone's voices: on ours, fear and distress. On theirs, power. The steel touching my head and the chances of a bump on the road causing the gun to be fired is a feeling that took me a long time to actually comprehend.

When we finally arrived at the place the man was guiding us to, we found ourselves on a dimly lit street in a high-class neighborhood. No one around. The man with the gun ordered us to exit the vehicle so they could search for stuff inside of it. Their disbelief that we didn't have our wallets with us led to a quick and somewhat merciful search, taking only a few minor belongings. Finally believing us, the man in charge told us to drive away. I obviously seized the opportunity, hoping that escape would not be met with a hail of bullets.

This nightmarish, 1-hour experience was undoubtedly the most frightening moment of my life - although the second experience at gun point. Thoughts of "this is it, it's game over and I'm going to die" raced through my mind. I believed in those thoughts and accepted what was coming. I still remember thinking of my family and that only 5 minutes before, my friends and I were sharing stories, laughing, having a good time. In a heartbeat, everything changed. A good reminder that life can take a turn very quickly.

Later on we found out that someone witnessed the event unfolding and told the police at the station - believe it or not, positioned a block away from where we were abducted. The police told us that they were looking for us, but the witness made a mistake with the model of the car and the police couldn't find us. Honestly, it was for the best. I can't imagine what would've happened considering the tinted windows and the amount of people inside that car.

Back to the story, I somehow managed to remain calm throughout the whole time. My reputation for being a calm and patient person had often seemed like a negative trait to me, as if it made me be seen as passive. However, it was precisely this calmness that saved my life and possibly those of my friends.

From that point on, my nights were forever altered. I developed a heightened sense of awareness, a constant watchfulness that still lingers. Fear, anxiety, all of it. PTSD, if you will. It was as if the trauma had embedded a new instinct within me, and I couldn't simply go back to living as I had before.

Fast forward to 2018 when I was already living in Berlin (safety being one of the main reasons to move abroad), almost 10 years after the event, and on the verge of fulfilling a dream—traveling to Japan. As a longtime fan of photography, I had never taken the leap into the world of more powerful cameras, with interchangeable lenses. A friend's recommendation led me to purchase a Sony a6000 and a 35mm lens. It was in Japan that my passion for the medium was rekindled, and it also opened a door to a new way of processing my traumatic experience.

Even in one of the safest places on Earth, Tokyo, my cautious nature remained when wandering at night. Yet, it didn't deter me from exploring, camera in hand, capturing the city after dark — a practice I would never have considered in São Paulo.

Returning to Berlin, my newfound passion for photography led me to explore the city day and night. I do love the daytime, harsh light and deep, strong contrasts, which made create another body of work between 2018 and 2021. But night photography, in particular, feels different, like a unique realm to express myself and confront my fears. At times, thoughts of that traumatic night would resurface, keeping me at home even when I had planned and was excited to go out to shoot. Honestly, moments like this still happen today. However, I began to push those fears aside, camera in hand, to leave the house to capture Berlin's nocturnal streets in my own way. This has become the place I call home and it felt only right to create a new body of work that's been fully captured here.

It was during this journey that "Colorida" was born. With this body of work, I aimed to continue to use photography as a means to process my trauma. It was just me and the streets, often cold, wet and empty, and a creative process that allowed me to release whatever needed to come out, as a friend would say. I was deeply inspired by all of it, specially its abundance of colours, only visible during the night. Over five months, between the end of 2021 and the first semester of 2022, during a deeply personal and therapeutic endeavor, I felt all sorts of feelings, fear included. But most of all, I look at this journey as one that's been filled with joy and love.

That experience changed my life. And the healing power of photography has been profound for me, as I think art, in any medium, can be to everyone that needs to process something that has had an impact in their lives. And it doesn't necessarily need to come from a negative experience, by the way. In my case, it does, and it's ok. And since this journey started, every click of the shutter, to be shared or not with other people, feels like a step towards processing the echoes of that event, and finding something positive in an otherwise harrowing experience. It's a testament to the strength of the human spirit, the power of art, and, if I may, the resilience of a calm and patient soul.

Much Love,

In June — 2023, during a trip to visit family and friends in Brazil, I returned to the location that my friends and I were abducted to take a photograph of it for the very first time. It was cathartic!
collector claim 2023/24
Prints & limited book edition for collectors.
About print and book claims:

Signed prints will be offered as a gift to every first collector of each 1/1, (size to be defined), or until the print is claimed - for example, if an artwork is resold without the print being claimed, the next collector is entitled to receiving it. More information about how to claim a print will be announced on this website and via social media.

In regards to the book, each holder (at the time of release) will be able to claim a copy, and its realisation will be dependant on the proceeds from the sales of the whole body of work.

meet the artist
Rodrigo Bardin is Brazilian born, Berlin based multidisciplinary creative and artist that explores and creates artworks using primarly a camera. With over 20 years of experience, he's also built a career around the digital realm by exploring different disciplines, from user experience to art direction and brand strategy, working with local and global brands and agencies.