Robin Apple – I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

Robin Apple

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

I’ve had a good life. Finding and sustaining love and romance has not exactly been my greatest accomplishment though. I was considering the mix of thoughts and emotions that I experience when observing couples who appear to be in love – e.g. Are they together for the long haul? What will their future hold? Will there be as much beauty as pain? How will the necessary compromises and conflicts unfold? And then I began to ponder and revisit some of the complex dynamics of my own past relationships. What combination of reactions did I have about each partner then – when immersed in the relationship and now – well after its demise?



As an artist and as a psychologist I have worked toward accepting and appreciating the ambivalence that can accompany most endeavors, love in particular and I try to look for the growth and learning opportunities in all experiences. I’m grateful that I can use art/photography in addition to words, to express, illuminate, process and reinterpret all.

Mostly these days I’m using my iPhone5 in conjunction with a sequence of post-processing applications to capture and then combine moments that seem compelling to me, rather than being burdened and distracted by the technology and weight of my DSLR. I selected the blended images for this essay to convey day-to-day experiences of couples: biking, dining, hugging, playing, vacationing and walking, juxtaposed against a backdrop of flowers and white picket fences that symbolize beauty and serenity, and then paired with textures of dividing lines, paper folds, scratches and splotches, that suggest conflict, separation, and tension.



Robin F. Apple (b. 1962) is a clinical psychologist at Stanford University. She fell in love with photography as an important creative outlet and vehicle for self-expression. As a psychologist, she values balance and integration, experimentation, expression, opening oneself to new experiences, and physical movement. As a photographer, she is intrigued mostly by highly colored images that use angles, blends, blur, and sometimes motion to combine elements of abstraction and reality in a way that keeps people guessing.

Dr. Apple is a member of the artist cooperative gallery, The Main Gallery, located in Redwood City, CA where her work is currently on display; her work is also currently exhibited at the Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, CA (Abstractions). In the past she has been included in exhibitions at Rayko Photography Center in the ‘Student and Instructor Show’, December 2012, Flow Art Space, Minneapolis, MN, ‘For Families’ exhibition, August 2013 and ‘The Pacific Art League’ (various exhibitions).


Related Links

The Main Gallery

500px Blog


16 Responses to “Robin Apple – I Never Promised You a Rose Garden”

  • Dear Dr. Apple,
    A very lovely and personal work indeed. I liked the title of your work and also the narration below the images. Being a clinical psychologist, I would like to ask you a question. I have been doing photography for a quite some time now. It is at a halt as I am in severe distress mentally which has risen from to time leading to a separation with my wife for the seven months. It has also halted my photography as well as I prefer to stay indoors and read articles and interviews and listen to music mostly. By nature I am very impulsive yet sentimental and emotional and I prefer to stick to something that I fall in love with, extremely. I never believed in a proper career and always looked to enjoy life. But currently, I am lost and do not find a way to bring myself out of this situation and I have been to psychiatrists and counselors who actually could not give me any solution and instead told my wife “it is of no use counseling him” which made me laugh really. My wife thinks am eccentric, extreme in my behavior, I fight with people (I used to, mostly regarding photography). My question to you is, how do I come out of this depression?


  • robinapplepeopleshots

    Hello Dipanjan,
    Thanks for your kind words about my photoessay.
    Since I’m up on burn mag as a photographer and not as a clinician, I certainly can’t advise you about how to make your particular life situation better, but I’m sorry to hear you’re in distress! I will say that for me, striving for balance- through art, exercise, friends and other healthy relationships, meaningful work, rest, relaxation and travel -has made the complicated journey of life better- and super interesting too! I’d encourage you to keep doing photography with an eye toward using it to increase your self-awareness…it can be in a general way, pretty darn therapeutic if you ask me! Also the views of positive psychology and happiness research (the movie “Happy” is one example) can be seriously motivating.

  • Dear Dr. Apple,

    Thanks for taking out time and responding. Indeed appreciate it.


  • robinapplepeopleshots

    You are very welcome. Best of luck to you Dipanjan!

  • Colorful and up-lifting, they remind me of batik or tie-die art.
    I’m also a fan of short essays and wanting more.
    DM yes, stick to the photography.

  • Hi Skiwaves,

    Will try my best. thanks a lot.


  • This is a really nice package of images. Period!

  • robinapplepeopleshots

    Thank you, pomara!

  • robinapplepeopleshots

    Also thank you skiwaves for your comments.
    I have kind of been thinking of my work as a crossover between photography and other art forms…I’ve never been one to color entirely inside any lines!

  • Lovely work, Robin! And what you had to say was very insightful, giving me a deeper understanding of your approach. Congratulations and keep shooting with that camera that happens to make phone calls! :-D

  • robinapplepeopleshots

    Hi David, aka dayzdandconfuzd :-)
    Thank you for your kind words about this work! You and DAH deserve the credit for helping me find and fine-tune my artistic voice while in Oaxaca last Fall…
    Thumbs up to the iPhone and iPhoneographers everywhere :-).

  • Shades of the 1960s, when we were all sandwiching our over-exposed out-takes to try and make what we thought was groovy far-out stuff.

    I’m not sure wether this is a tongue-in-cheek piece or not, but thanks for the walk down memory lane.

  • robinapplepeopleshots

    Thanks for your comments, Gordon! Tongue-in-cheek, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder

  • Not my usual cup of tea but its nice to be pushed and break down those barriers.

    While the colours are spectacular I feel they overpower the main subject too much.

    Number 7 is great.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • When I looked at this, it also took me back to the late ’60’s – to the movies, with a photo montage either in the opening credits or at the end, possibly both. A love story movie, one that ended in tragedy but there were good and happy moments along the way.

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