April 28

Retro Neo


What's New is Old Again

Intro: Shoes, Champaign, and Surrealism

At the beginning of 2021, with fatigue from the global “pandemic” setting in and the desire to escape its dismal clutches rising, we shot an upbeat, romantic fashion campaign for a shoe designer that included Valentine’s balloons, champaign, a beautiful model, and a huge, original surrealist painting. Here’s the story.

A Reason to Smile

By January 2021, Veragano Shoes was done with 2020’s gloom.  At Image Theory, we felt the same way.  We wanted to tell a romantic fashion story that made people smile (and not through a mask). Something that made people want to go out and kick up their designer heels.  If we needed another motivation for a positive vibe (we didn’t) the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday provided one.  And thus was Veragano’s  Celebrate Love campaign born. Featuring the brand’s upbeat colors of turquoise and bright yellow, and tying into Valentine’s romance with red balloons, champagne, candy, and flowers, this romantic fashion campaign would jump start an optimistic 2021 with small celebrations of love -- love of being alive, love of style, romantic love, and of course, love of fashionable shoes. 

Photographing this fashion shoe campaign featured three phases that tested the studio’s capabilities. The first used a solid yellow background to create a bright contrast with Veragano’s signature turquoise color, the color featured in their elegant shoe boxes and soles.  We’d add red heart-shaped balloons and other romantic trappings to key the Celebrate Love motif. 

Banner and direct mail photo for shoe designer's romantic fashion campaign, featuring pretty model in snakeskin pumps, Valentine's balloons, and a stack of shoe boxes. Gerard Harrison, Houston fashion photographer

Flagship image for romantic fashion campaign.

The Flagship Fashion Photo

The flagship advertising photo for this phase is the shot above, featuring our model siting at a small café table, one fashionably clad foot resting on the table edge and heart-shaped balloons blowing in the wind overhead. The image was created for direct email use, advertising, point-of-sale art, and possibly web page banners. To allow for text additions and multiple crops, the image needed an extended background.  That sounds simple enough. But placing a model holding helium balloons, with a table and chair on a 9-foot background and leaving room for any additional space at all is nearly impossible.  Leaving enough space for a 16:9 banner is pure fantasy.  But we said we’d create the image, and we did. The photo above is the final product.

Mellow Yellow

The second phase would use the yellow background for some simpler, product-oriented fashion photos. Here is a selection:

A Surrealist Painting For a Signature Look

For the third, and most ambitious, segment of this campaign, Veragano wanted to extend their branding beyond simple colors.  To accomplish this, the client commissioned Sarah Kate Hirth, the studio’s art director and set designer,  to create a permanent artwork that would be unique and instantly recognizable as Veragano. It would also serve as a background to a series of images in this and future shoots.  This large (10x12’) surrealist painting would blend abstract color and shape elements with recognizable design elements in Veragano’s shoes.  The painting would form a central motif in photographing this romantic shoe campaign.

Fantasia Veragano

After extensive consultation, Sarah Kate got to work. In three intense days, she completed the complex and beautiful painting we called “Fantasia Veragano.”  (That’s pronounced “fan-tah-SEE-ya,” y’all.  It’s supposed to be Italian.)  The result is a surrealist painting  with a distinctly tropical look. It features shoe shapes morphing subtly into exotic birds and totemic faces. Pyramidal structures, ubiquitous in ancient cultures across the globe arise out of the landscape.  And in case you think this mystical rainforest vibe is gratuitous, it isn't.  Veragano’s founder is Malaysian, and naturalistic mysticism is ancient in Malaysian folk culture.  

Final Touches

Finally, we decided to create a hazy, extra-dimensional separation between the modern, celebratory foreground and the mystic surrealism of the painting.  To do that, we draped iridescent tulle fabric in front of the painting and lit it at oblique angles from two directions. You can see how the shots came out in the gallery below.  The last photo is of Sarah Kate standing in front of her artwork.

Some Well-Deserved Credits

Our model, Miranda was beautiful, elegant, spontaneous, and effervescent throughout, even though we held her for an extra two hours without a break!  Aleya Duncan, our HMUA, as she always does, created looks that were clean, pretty and exactly what we needed, a did it at lightspeed.  Finally, Sarah Kate, who's artwork made the shoot possible, helped keep the shoot on track, bossed me around and made sure I got ALL the shots, when I got bogged down in the technical stuff.  All these ladies are the bomb. 

Let Us Know

Let us know what you think of our work. And if you have a fashion project coming up, feel free to contact us. You can learn more about our approach to fashion photography here and you can see lots more of our fashion work here!

Model: Miranda Black

HMUA: Aleya Duncan, Freckleface Makeup

Trail Boss/Artist: Sarah Kate Hirth 

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