By Craig Stocks / Photography by Craig Stocks
Raphael Rodolfi tells stories through video. What started as a personal project to tell the story of his grandmother’s life has turned into the main theme of Raphael’s life. Today, he uses his video skills to tell the stories of small business, capture the creative processes of artists and to record the life stories of families in Central Illinois.
Raphael was born in Italy and raised in France by his mother and grandparents. It was in Paris where he met his wife, Peoria native Katie Couri, while she was a college student studying abroad. The Paris romance soon turned to marriage and the couple relocated to Chicago. Initially Raphael worked at the Apple Store and tutored French on the side. But, when the owner of an advertising agency contacted him for tutoring in French, Raphael took the opportunity to show him some of his video work. Soon he was doing video full time for the Plan B advertising agency.
After several years in Chicago, the couple relocated to Peoria to be closer to family. It was at that point that Raphael decided to pursue the American dream of owning his own business. He eventually hit on the name Videogenique as a play on the word “photogenic.” He added the distinctive “que” ending to honor his French roots – and his business was born.
As he was starting his business, Raphael noticed that there were many small businesses who have a great story to tell, but they “need a medium to tell their story.” His solution was to help them tell their story through video. Soon Videogenique was doing traditional commercials as well as short web videos, or “webmercials.” According to Raphael, “I want to be able to give them a shot at presenting themselves in a way that is compelling and not boring – and cheap.”
Traditional video work and webmercials pay the bills, but Raphael’s true love is the art of time lapse video. Soon after starting to use video in France he began exploring time lapse videos. “I was quickly drawn into recording nature,” he says, “and I was fascinated with time lapse photography. I frequently got up early or stayed up late and started recording sunrises and sunsets.”
Today, Raphael trains his time lapse camera on local artists to capture their creative process. Recent videos include Peoria painter Tracey Frugoli and Dutch mural artist Ard Doko. He also recently posted an open call through ArtsPartners of Central Illinois looking for artists who might be interested in doing a time lapse video.
Raphael lost his mother at an early age and all he has are distant memories. “I try to get the voice of my mom again and I can’t.” He knew he needed video to record memories of his grandmother. “Pictures don’t talk,” he said, “and I wanted her talking and moving.” With that experience in mind, Videogenique also records video memories for Central Illinois families. “I do what I did with my grandmother,” Raphael says. “I’ll sit down with your parents and talk to them about their stories. I’ll be there with three cameras, lights and microphones and we’ll have a nice discussion for an hour or two. Once our loved ones are gone, they’re gone.”
Visit www.videogenique.com for more information and to see more of Raphael’s work.