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A Vision of Vera



FEATURE STORY


A Vision of Vera

Stacy Apikos-Boge
Shoots a
Vera Wang
Campaign
TEXT BY LORRAINE A. DARCONTE • IMAGES BY STACY APIKOS-BOGE

New York-based photographer Stacy Apikos-Boge just recently finished the Vera Wang International Campaign with fashion guru Polly Mellen. The campaign concept was pure Apikos-Boge.

"I was hired for the way I shoot and what was in my book," explains Apikos-Boge. "Mellen, who I would describe as a creative director/producer/stylist, and I had similar working styles. We're both very hands-on with the way an outfit should be styled or moved. So it was a wonderful experience working with her. "

During the shoot, Vera Wang remained on the set for a few hours to make sure the integrity and spirit of the dresses was defined. "I enjoyed having Vera there," says Apikos-Boge. "We were pretty much in agreement about how the dresses should be photographed.

She shot a lot of the dresses with a velvet background, which creates a more intimate portrait, with the light muted and soft. Classic Apikos-Boge. And another aspect lent her touch to the shoot. "The work has a sensibility that a woman is shooting another woman's body," she says. "The photographs look real, less commercial, with a distinct point of view.

"I know, as a former creative director, that the dress has to look good. That's really the ultimate thing; I can't make [the photograph] so dark that the dress can't be seen. I shot over 200 images for Vera during a three-day shoot, experimenting with a few different backgrounds and lighting effects."

Even the most productive shoot has its challenges. "It was hard to find the right muse, not only for the spirit of the dress, but for my vision of Vera," recalls Apikos-Boge. "In the end, the model we shot most was terrific."

In addition to models, there were makeup, hair, and a prop person on the set. Security was tight for the jewelry, which was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, Apikos-Boge employed a staff of six to handle lighting, cameras, and processing.

A PASSION FOR POLAROID
Apikos-Boge has a decided preference for Polaroid film, which she uses almost exclusively. "The advantage and beauty of using Polaroid is its immediacy," she says. "But I also can alter the color and experiment. It allows for accidents, which I believe in, in art. The manipulation comes from exposure time, lens, lighting. There's a real honesty with it."

Wang planned to use many of the images from the shoot in her then upcoming wedding book, explains Apikos-Boge. With Polaroids, if she didn't like the way a dress looked, they were able to change it instantly. Wang wound up featuring 45 Apikos-Boge images in her book.

"Shooting really quickly, we took a number of color and B&W Polaroids for each outfit (the finished prints were Polaroid 8x10s). I shot enough work for Wang to use for the next year or two." That work has since appeared on Lifetime Television, in annual reports for Wang licensees, and elsewhere.

Apikos-Boge's arsenal of photographic equipment includes a Hasselblad, an Olympus OM1, and a Polaroid 690—"an older Polaroid I use to shoot B&W and color, which I found last year." She also uses Polaroid's 20x24 camera on occasion. "The 8x10 is great, but the 20x24 is fabulous for portraiture.

"I used the 20x24 for Vera Wang, as well as an Estee Lauder campaign. Both clients used the images for PR when launching their collections/products and added them to their private art collections afterward.

"These images become little paintings. There's absolutely nothing else that gives you this quality," she says. "It's the technique, the camera, and film-the combination—that gives you something you don't get with 35mm or any film. It's hypnotic. It's addictive. I love it. Whereas the digital process is taking over the world of photography, with Polaroid film, I don't feel like the process is overwhelming. It's a collaboration with the materials at hand."

FUTURE FOCUS
Being hired for the Vera Wang ad campaign meant, "for me, at that moment, that I had totally reached my goals," she says. As for the future, "I'd like to keep taking pictures and do more fashion and documentary work with Polaroid. My dream would be to travel the world and photograph children in places we haven't seen, in the hopes of changing their lives."

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