Vogue site publishes USF student’s photos
By Tina Akouris firstname.lastname@example.org February 24, 2013 11:06PM
Photographer Kali Placencia had two photos selected for the Vogue Italia website as seen in her home studio Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 26, 2013 6:02AM
Kali Placencia was getting frustrated. For the past six months she had been submitting at least three photos a day to the Vogue Italia website in hopes that her work would get published online. At one point she decided to just bag it, and she stopped submitting the images for about two weeks.
But that itch and urge to see her work published was gnawing at Placencia again in late December. So she took a break from studying for her final exams at the University of St. Francis and re-submitted the photos.
That night she went to bed thinking of the same story: rejection.
But when she woke up the next morning, Placencia realized she’d have a hard time focusing on the last tests of her college career.
The photos were accepted and were placed front and center on the Vogue Italia website.
It hit her like a punch in the mouth.
“My dad emailed it to everybody, and his friend base is huge,” said the Joliet resident, who graduated from USF in December. “And my professors were estatic.”
Vogue is recognized as the most influential — and perhaps one of the oldest — publications in fashion circles and has 19 international editions.
“The really good images they accept (online) will make it into their magazines,” said Placencia, who has three children ranging in age from 5 to 11. “That’s my goal, to get my work published in these magazines.”
Placencia, 30, had starting submitting photos to Vogue Italia from her senior thesis in April. Her photo shoot back then had a vintage theme with models wearing clothes from different decades. But the published photos had a more gritty, urban feel and were shot in a downtown Joliet alley.
“Kali has raised the bar for her peers,” said Michael Costello, Placencia’s academic advisor and former professor in the USF art and design department. “One of the primary aspects our program tries to convey to students is that you must be driven and seek out opportunity. And Kali is exemplary in this area.
“Her hard work is paying off.”
You’re coming with me
Placencia needed to make these photos stand out, not just for the Vogue submission, but for her class as well. Back in early October, Placencia’s professor, Paul Erschen, said he wanted Placencia to find a model for her independent studio class. He wanted photos with a model that looked like a normal girl and not a made-up professional.
Placencia found 19-year old freshman Jenna Bronson at the Rialto Theater in downtown Joliet where USF’s school of art and design has an office and Bronson is a student worker.
The two went into an alley behind the Rialto and shot photos for about a half-hour, took a break and then shot for another hour. Bronson wore all black and her face was not exposed to the camera in any of the shots.
“She was going for something simple and wanted it to be outside her comfort zone,” said Bronson, a New Lenox resident. “I never modeled before, and I’m a photography major as well.”
Bronson said there were limited interruptions in the alley during the shoot, mainly a few kids riding their bikes through. Otherwise, the pair were left alone to create.
“That alley does not smell very nice,” Placencia said. “I told her she could put her black sweater on the ground (for one of the photos) and put her face on that so it wasn’t directly touching the gross ground.”
Said Bronson: “I wasn’t aware that she was going to submit them to Vogue. I guess I should be excited for myself, too, but it’s just so weird seeing myself in the photos. I was like, ‘Oh, wait, that’s me!’ ”
Placencia, who started off at USF in social work and moved over to photography when she was 25 years old, has her own business, Captured Dreams Photography. She photographs primarily children, families, does engagement photos and has partnered up with another photographer to do weddings on occasion.
But Placencia’s dream is to do fashion photography and she is hoping the Vogue Italia photos will beef up her resume so she can do just that.
Placencia is planning on doing more shoots with Bronson this coming year and submitting more photos to Vogue. Placencia is also hoping to have some of her work published in the magazine Meuse, a smaller publication than Vogue that focuses on art and fashion.
“I had gotten really discouraged, but because of just those two images I know I can do work that (Vogue) likes,” Placencia said. “It’s motivating me to continue to try submitting more.”