At a time before the war in Ukraine, before the global pariah that is now Vladimir Putin, Russia was a place that Americans not only visited but freely did business with. The business of television was particularly lucrative for companies like Sony Pictures, which found audiences in Russia and other countries hungry for American entertainment. Enter Rob Feldman, a native Philadelphian, experienced news producer and amateur photographer.
“We pioneered this business of remaking American sitcoms overseas,” says Rob, who was Vice President of International Production for Sony Pictures International in the early 2000s. “With local actors and local writers, we would adapt the scripts to The Nanny, Married with Children, Who’s the Boss and Everybody Loves Raymond. We did this all over the world. It was extremely successful. We would try to adapt the scripts to the cultural sensitivities.”
It was Russia where Everybody Loves Raymond took off in popularity as The Voronins. During the filming of the show’s 455th episode (there were 552 over ten years), it was inducted into the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-adapted television show in the world.
In his downtime, Rob took photos, and lots of them. Never hassled by police or the KGB, he snapped photos of Russia’s iconic locations including the Kremlin, landmarks in and around Red Square and many Russian citizens who gladly gave their permission to be photographed. Their many faces created a sort of poetry that only a still camera in the hands of a talented photographer could capture.
Today, Rob roams the farmlands of Bucks County, a northern suburb of Philadelphia, and captures the land in all its glory and decay. He is attracted to old barns, broken-down tractors, signs painted onto old brick walls as well as the beauty of Lake Nockamixon and working farms.
“I just started driving around here and one farm was more beautiful than the next. There’s kind of a cornucopia of conservancies that buy up these lands and conserve them from future development and it really preserves the rural character of this area. That’s what I wanted to capture because quite frankly, I’d never seen it before. I lived in Philly for 37 years and had never even been to Doylestown.”
To hear more about Rob’s Russian adventures and photo proclivities, check out the Type. Tune. Tint. podcast episode below: