The work of Milan-based photographer Riccardo Apostolico is beautifully ephemeral. “You used the right word, ephemeral,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I think that is the perfect word to describe my work.”
Upon first glances at his portfolio, we’re instantly transcended into this transient land of the 80s – where the fashion is oversized and the hair is permed. Having adored the 80s since he was a teenager and its fashion, music and film, Riccardo recalls a time while he was watching Desperately Seeking Susan and he, quite literally, got goosebumps. “I said to myself: ‘Why am I not born in the 80s?’” Immediately hooked on the era, Riccardo explains how the polaroid scene, as well as the “vibes and the colours” of these earlier years became his main artistic focus.
With a client list ranging from Please! magazine, through to Nylon Germany and Contributor magazine, Riccardo reminds himself of how he got to where he is today, and it appears to be like a dream. Having studied the classics at high school – Greek, Latin and maths – he decided to pivot towards his greater passion, photography. “I knew I wanted to be a fashion photographer since I was 13 years old,” he says. “When I was a child, I used to shoot with a disposable camera and I found it so fun to take endless memories.” On July 2011, the photographer “secretly” bought his first reflex camera with savings, and from that moment onwards, he started to build on his visual world.
Riccardo’s aesthetic draws from the dreamy landscape of cinema, infusing high-fashion with cues taken from 80s Vogue Italia, as well as photographers David Hamilton, Steven Meisel, Maripol and Petra Collins. “Fashion has always been in my life; my parents work in the industry so I always breathed that air,” he explains. Dreaming of making The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty a reality, he left his home in the south of Italy in 2016 and moved to Milan. “My love for lights, sparkles and colours led me to pursue my education in photography at IED Milano – I graduated this year with a thesis all about the 80s.”
A typical day for Riccardo begins with him switching off his phone – “the first thing to do”, as shoot days are of the utmost importance and it’s imperative that he stays focused on the work. What’s more, he “loves playing with the lights” and finds photographic jellies a must due to its soft filter effect and vintage feel when placed on the lens. Then, while shooting, he makes sure to plan how he wants the story to unfold before coming on set and discussing it with the rest of the team. “The styling part for me is really important,” he says, “and sometimes everything changes last minute, and it’s crazy – but last minute things are the best.” The enjoyment of working under pressure gives Riccardo that motivation to push onwards, making sure to “live in every single moment”.
Most recently, Riccardo published his latest series for Please!,, a fashion magazine founded in 2007 by photographer Olivia da Costa. Continuing a longstanding relationship with the publication, he explains how this last story, in particular, “is the funniest one”. The brief for the project began in June this year, when Riccardo was contacted to be featured (again) in its upcoming issue. Each edition has a different theme – anything from “dance club”, “love” or “dreams” – and this time around, the focus is on “contest”. “They asked me if I wanted to do a dog contest editorial,” says Riccardo, later working with stylist Antonio Autorino to build the story around a real-life dog show. “We thought to have different characters of owners, like “the rich girl” and “the nerd”. Everything had to be as kitsch as possible, starting from the set design. I watched a lot of videos and images about the the real dog contest to understand how I could mix my vision with the reality.”
The outcome is fantastically serene, humorous and lustful – a pure depiction of Riccardo’s vision as a photographer. With plans to continue shooting editorial features for magazines, he will also be launching a digital campaign for one of his favourite Italian designers, and work more on videos. On top of all this, potentially, he might be making a move to Paris – “even if Milan is my place”.
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