The music video for “Where Have You Been” was filmed on March 7, March 8, and March 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California and was directed by Dave Meyers. On the first day of filming, March 7, 2012, Rihanna tweeted: “Where Have You Been All My Life?”, with a picture of herself topless with her natural hair on the set of the music video. The video features choreography by Nadine “Hi-Hat” Ruffin, who has worked with Rihanna previously on her Grammy and BRIT Awards performances. She posted photos of her as a teaser for the video in her Facebook account, with one saying: “How much do you guys want to see the video?”. A day after she posted the photo, she released a behind-the-scenes footage of the video with the dance rehearsals for the video and afterwards the wardrobe fitting for the video shoot.
The video’s concept shows Rihanna travelling around various locations “looking for a male partner who will please her”. The video begins with a shot of flowing water which appears to be set in a dark swamp-like area. Rihanna’s head is then shown hovering above the water as she begins the first verse. She is then presented as a reptilian creature as part of her back is lifted above the water. Rihanna then exits the water, showing a scale ensemble, much like a reptile, which covers her breasts. As the bridge begins, a close up of Rihanna’s face is shown, half covered in a shawl, identical to the single cover. Choreography then begins as the singer is shown with a group of male dancers behind her, wearing tribal costumes in what appears to be an Egyptian desert. Rihanna dons a zebra-print outfit with oversized red trousers as she puts on a fast-paced routine against the backdrop of pyramids. Empty tree branches are shown, as well as a fire and a starry sky. Scenes of a nude Rihanna are intercut, holding a whip made of hair, while similtaneously covering her breasts.
As the second verse begins, the singer is seen in an African hut lying on the floor, surrounded by female dancers. She performs on the floor, in one moment managing to put her leg over her head, before standing up and again, performing a dance routine. The performers are seen to make the shape of an eye, with Rihanna in the centre as the pupil. In this scene she wears a black lace ensemble with a new wild curly hairstyle. This is followed with the singer laying in a large birds’ nest and then goes back to the singer with her previous wild hairstyle, performing a complex dance routine with female dancers, this time with fluorescent green effects. The penultimate scene shows Rihanna in a long dress which lights up neon red, while the singer has sequins across her face. She then appears to channel Hindu god Shiva as multiple arms surround her body. In the final scene, Rihanna and her male background dancers seen previously, slowly descend back underwater into the swamp; Rihanna’s head completely submerges below the water.