An Interview with Vicky Papas
I am delighted to share an interview with Vicky Papas, an International, award winning photographer and couture artist, who is the creative brainchild behind the brand VERGARA
I first met Vicky in 2015 at the beautiful Ceconi Castle in Italy, home to Graphistudio, who were hosting an event for Photographers at one of the biggest Symposiums that I had the pleasure to attend. Vicky, who is an Ambassador for Nikon, Profoto and an Ilford Master, blew me away with what she created from nothing.
Needless to say, as soon as I got the opportunity to interview her, I jumped at the chance.
Vicky let me start by asking you…..
RISE: What lead you into the world of ‘Fine Art Photography’?
From the very young age of 15, I wanted to create, but was stopped in my tracks when I was told I wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t artistic. That had an impact! It was all I wanted to do and still can’t believe that it is what I am doing to this day.
Both before photography and still today, I have a beauty salon which I had built at home. It is very modern with tall ceilings, polished concrete and a gallery feel to it. I have been in the beauty industry for 34 years. This side of my business has definitely benefited me with styling my clients for my Vergara couture portraits.
At the age of 42, I began my creative journey that had laid dormant from the age of 15. At first I started with painting. I went into my studio, grabbed myself a giant canvas and began to paint a vision of a beautiful woman. After creating several of these, I thought I would find myself a model and create a photographic version of my painting.
Using my skills, makeup, fabrics, my vision and photography, suddenly things fell into place. Looking back on it now, an image I created at 15, symbolises what I now create in my portraits; strong, beautiful, goddess. This is what I celebrate today. I went into a creative space. I absorbed as much as I could, attending as many courses and workshops as possible, booking photo shoots whenever I could. I took my time with styling and creating wearable art, I learn’t to edit my images in a painterly way, also improving and perfecting my craft as l went along on my journey.
I love to pose women, celebrating the female form, capturing femininity that becomes a piece of art. I feel you should be able to hang a piece of my artwork on any wall in your home. I was once told that ‘it is what you hide in the shadows, that makes these nudes so elegant!’
I actually started photographing art nudes in 2015! I had a client that was constantly asking me to photograph her nude, in my artistic way. I always said no, as I liked to dress the women I photographed. However, one day I decided to go and buy some super light fabrics, silk chiffon and the lightest tulle to create my first Art Nude portrait. That image won me a grand prize at WPPI and I went on to have an exhibition with that shoot.
RISE: You use a lot of fabric and draping!
YES!!!! A lot of my costumes are made on the spot during a photo session! I love draping fabrics, creating airy, light, floating fabrics that enhance the feminine form.
RISE: We love how creative you are, where do you source props from?
I have a love for fabric shops and I love a Thrift/Charity shop, it is surprising what you can find, that someone else would possibly never look twice at. My other great inspiration, which features heavily in my images, is nature. I’m inspired by seasons all around me, in fact Melbourne can have four seasons in one day!
RISE: We all know how time consuming editing can be. Do you edit all your own images or do you outsource this?
I do edit all my own images, but you know what? I think it’s important to get it right in camera. I produce slideshows at my workshops of unedited images, to show it is possible to create beautiful images in camera.
I do have my style of editing , its very painterly with a muted colour palette!
There are certain awards that I sometimes enter, where you are not allowed to manipulate or edit and are straight out of camera.
RISE: Do you work on your own or with a team?
When my clients come in for a portrait session, it is all me, they get my full attention! however I also collaborate with a lot of very talented Melbourne creatives who happen to be women, including art nude models, makeup artists, designers and milliners!
RISE: I know your clients come first and you create experiences for them, but why is this so important to you?
Yes, I do. For me, it is all about the client’s experience, which is paramount. It’s a bespoke service I offer. I prepare well in advance of the portrait session with a design consultation, sourcing everything for the day. It takes time to create the costumes, there is a lot of styling involved and then there is the experience itself. This could be a full morning or afternoon shoot. My clients then book in for a purchasing appointment.
I want my client to feel the most important person in the room, full of confidence. I want them to have wonderful memories of their shoot and the time we spent together. My clients can travel from interstate to see me, it has to be right. Everything is done with intention and my client in mind.
RISE: It’s important to strive and push yourself, do you have a mentor that helps you think outside the box?
I have a female business coach, who specialises in photography and felt I needed more structure. It is important to see where you can improve. It helps to develop me and my business for my clients.
I know there is so much more to give, we look at my service and marketing. It’s hard to sell an experience over the phone and I don’t want my art work to be about price. If my clients can’t come to me to see what I can produce, I ensure we Skype, you need to have that connection.
RISE: It’s always wonderful to have ‘Award Winning Images’ Do you enter a lot of awards?
Of course I do occasionally enter, as it is always loveIy to win an award. But I also find it enjoyable to just be there as a guest when I haven’t entered, to enjoy viewing all the images in their own right. I think awards are about impact and when you become well known for a certain style, it does loose that certain impact. Originality is key.
RISE: I hear you have had involvement in having your images published in a book?
YES!!!! I was delighted to be asked to create images for Karyn Hay, an author from New Zealand for her published book ’The March of the Foxgloves’. I was asked to create styling from start to finish from the 1890’s.
I’m so proud of this. It was a whole day shoot, preparing and styling the beautiful Miss Sina King. The editing then took another couple of weeks.
The novel explores Victorian erotica and is set in colonial Auckland and Tauranga in 1893. The year New Zealand women got the vote.
RISE: Whats next for Vergara?
My dream is to create a new series of limited edition prints and go overseas and have my work represented in galleries. To be able to create this series of images freely with no boundaries. It is art made by me to be enjoyed by others. I do have galleries in Australia that currently sell my work, but I would also love to be in galleries in New York and London.
RISE: Is there one piece of advice you can pass on to our readers?
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Create Freely and Fearlessly
Vicky, Thank You so much for being open, honest and you. I have loved talking with you and wish you all the best for the future of VERGARA and your galleries, that I cannot wait to visit.
You can view more of Vicky’s exquisite art work