Feet on the Ground, Head in the Clouds: A Conversation with Roberto H A conversation with Roberto H

Behind the scenes of his sensational photographs

Behind the scenes of his sensational photographs

Aerial photographer Roberto Hernandez roams the skies with a drone, exploring the world from unseen perspectives. In his body of work, symmetrical architecture meets chaotic crowds and rolling landscapes; his motifs evoke a multitude of emotions from his viewers.

We took a peek inside the Mexican artist's creative processes and life, and were captivated by his world.

From dawn till dusk

A highly skilled art director by day, Roberto H’s impressive portfolio includes work for brands such as Tesla, Audi and Mexico City International Airport. When he isn’t busy juggling projects for his long list of prestigious clientele, he devotes his time to pursuing his personal photography—an ever-growing collection of snapshots which he shares via his @dronerobert Instagram feed. Fueled by a passion for his creations, Roberto H is highly committed to his craft. He can frequently be spotted wandering Mexico City’s streets in the early hours of the day, in search of new subjects. But, from the moment he steps into his studio, his attention shifts to his design work, laying out the pages of books, magazines, alongside other design projects. Nevertheless, whenever his workload permits it, he’ll head back out before sunset to savour the last hours of daylight with his camera.

In search of fascinating details and thrilling adventures

Roberto H attributes his ability to capture an element of surprise in his photos to the fact that he’s always on the go. “Whether it’s while I’m biking through the city or scanning Google Maps, I’m always on the lookout for new shapes,” the avid lensman explains. Every time he stumbles across a detail that catches his eye, curiosity gets the better of him and he begins pulling together the pieces of his next shoot. Ultimately, only the final images themselves have the power to reveal the strength of any given motif. But documenting the world from above while staying firmly rooted to the earth is no easy feat. Roberto H commits countless hours of research to planning his drone shoots, and receives invaluable support from friends and family. Many of his strongest pieces were produced in collaboration with his girlfriend, Maria Anton—while he’s at the wheel, she keeps her eyes glued to Google Maps, beckoning him to halt whenever they arrive at a location that could potentially be interesting from a birds-eye view.

The car almost broke down, and the light disappeared entirely, but in the end, we achieved an excellent photo at night in the middle of nowhere in one of the most dangerous states of Mexico: Guerrero.

Though his work as an art director remains a source of excitement in his life, more often than not, Roberto H attributes his personal highlights to unexpected events from his time on the road. Today, he can’t help but smile as he recounts a thrilling adventure which happened while travelling for his palm tree project: “We had to drive on a muddy road in a VW Polo to get to the location before nightfall. The car almost broke down, and the light disappeared entirely, but we ended up with an excellent photo at night in the middle of nowhere in one of the most dangerous states of Mexico: Guerrero.”

A chaotic core

In addition to Roberto H’s innate love for untouched natural landscapes he is deeply inspired by local Mexican life—and it’s precisely this vibrant cultural undertone which makes his photographs so distinctive. He also has a penchant for juxtaposing the worlds of man and nature. Exploring both the good and the bad, as well as their intersections, results in a series of striking compositions.

As we proceeded to pry a bit deeper, he didn’t cease to surprise us, “I have a series with Maria featuring aerial nude photographs in natural settings and I’d love to depict her naked on top of a volcano someday.” His infatuation with the coexistence between Mother Earth and human civilization goes far beyond baring all. His work zooms in on humanity’s influence on the environment, and the order and chaos that ensue as a result—broken down cars on the edge of a pristine forest, a plantation of palms sown in perfect rows, salt marshes emanating hypnotic colours. Roberto H’s photographs have as much potential to make us think as much as they do to make us dream.

I have a series with Maria featuring aerial nude photographs in natural places, and I’d love to depict her naked on top of a volcano someday.

He was quick to define the recurring themes in his work: “Chaos, symmetry and palpable tension.” His high-flying lens allows him to capture the hustle and bustle of everyday life from new perspectives. One of his most moving pictures depicts a crowd of 45,000 people. Snapped above the Plaza de Toros México, it documents the controversial practice of bullfighting. Whenever his subjects relate to sensitive topics, they have the potential to trigger an especially wide range of emotions while igniting a dialogue.

Maristas, mi corazon

Of his works at JUNIQE, Maristas—taken in Barcelona in 2016—is by far his favourite. In spite of the city’s ban on drones, this marvellous image was shot from the sky. “It was the first drone photograph I ever sold. An Englishman bought it [the original] for £400 several years ago” he explains with a sense of nostalgia. With its ochre tones and distinctive lines, we are in awe of its depth. In our eyes, the ideal picture to bring a touch of character and invite a story to any space.

Thank you, Roberto.

Text: Caroline Lacaille

Translation: Maia Frazier

Photo credits: Maria Anton (photos 1, 2 and 4)