maandag 29 februari 2016
Christian Dior was the first haute couture house that started its own glasses line. This happened in 1976 and their frame design had the effect of a shock wave, especially in Switzerland where I was working at the time. Within a few weeks, the streets had changed in a revolutionary manner - and I'm not talking shop windows but Swiss ladies. Several competitors in the world of haute couture zoomed in behind Dior and although none of them had the same output and impact, some of their frames were fantastic. These glasses by Cardin are an excellent example.
It was an extraordinary experience to meet Sonia and do bits and pieces of a photo shoot with her during our walks and talks. Part of it it was just a matter of capturing the general mood but quite soon it became clear that Sonia has a talent for real modelling as well. Here is a fine example.
These remarkable Cazal glasses were sent to me a couple of years ago by Frank and Maureen, a friendly couple from England. Rather than throwing out Maureen's old glasses, they contacted me and offered to send me this pair if I felt that the glasses could be used in future photo shoots. My answer was "Yes, please" - Cazal always stood out. Their frame design, best described as "not for the fainthearted" was consistent and it yielded them a niche in the highly competitive market. The lenses were of special interest as well. Trifocals were - and still are - rare sightings in the streets. They were an invention of the late 1970's but the visibility of the demarcation lines left them unpopular in the competition with progressives.
Sonia and Maureen have an almost identical prescription for long distance so the Cazal glasses were among the first pairs selected for the trip to Paris with Sonia in mind. This photo was taken upon my special request. Sonia is actually studying the tourist map of Paris through the reading segments in the Cazal glasses. Although her own accommodation is still perfect, Sonia was interested in making the acquaintance with these complicated but intricate lenses. She declared this capture one of her favourites among the samples sent to her after the photo shoot and she was absolutely right!
A Parisienne pur sang, involved in making videos showing the beauty and atmosphere of her native city well before the attacks, Sonia needed no encouragement from my side to pose with a tourist map of Paris. Her message here is: "Tourists and visitors, come back soon!"
January 23rd was an amazing day. The long walk from the hotel to the Louvre area took place in a cloud that almost reached the roofs of the buildings. It remained overcast throughout the day and the only variation was the height of the clouds. Light conditions were varying as well and the reflection from the water was fairly strong at times, indicating that the clouds were not all that thick. This gave me the opportunity to accentuate the varying light conditions during the editing process.
The messages exchanged with Sonia during the weeks preceding her photo shoot were bilingual. I can speak French (although rusty and with a funny accent) but writing in French is a different matter as the grammar was always beyond me. So my contributions were in English and Sonia replied in French. It worked remarkably well. When we actually met at the Petit Arc, our talks were all in French. Occasionally I had to look for words, especially when it came to instructions for the posing. Fortunately, there was hardly any need for instructions. Sonia is a natural in front of the camera and the atmosphere was airy and relaxed. Great!
Sonia producing a radiant smile after hearing her brother's comment on her looks in the Rodenstock glasses. Note the difference in style with the previous glasses by Silhouette. The 1970's and 1980's were the heyday of the large frames. Speaking in general, the frames of the 1970's were more robust while the frames of the 1980's were more airy.
Sonia commented that these vintage Silhouette glasses gave her perfect eyesight. It has always been my policy to start a photo shoot with glasses that match the model's own prescription as close as possible. Of course it's impossible with vintage glasses to guarantee an identical PD (in this case 63) but my guess is that even the PD is not far off. There is also an excellent match when it comes to the aesthetic aspect.
But let's forget about the joggers and talk glasses.... Sonia is quite knowledgeable about the subject and glasses are among the recurring themes in her blog, often in combination with make up. It goes without saying that she has a fine collection of glasses and an excellent, highly personal taste for frames. With this in mind, I selected a pizza box filled with glasses for Sonia. This pair by the famous Silhouette company from Austria was the first to be tried out. The style is mid to late 1970's but there is no serial number on the frame. Silhouette started using serial numbers in the early 1970's so the glasses may be a bit older than expected.
We decided to leave the street vendors and headed towards the adjoining Jardin des Tuileries. There were no crowds but we often had to step aside for the joggers who clearly regarded the territory their own. Joggers had not come to prominence during my previous visit to Paris, 36 years ago.
My short visit to Paris (arrival on January 21st, departure on January 24th) was arranged around an appointment to meet Sonia, one of the most acclaimed bloggers in France. Together with a friend called Cerise, Sonia is also involved in making wonderful video documentaries about Paris. Over the past few years, I received several inquiries about inviting Sonia for a photo shoot. She and I already had an occasional email exchange about glasses related topics. Just when I was about to send her an invitation, the attacks took place so the invitation was delayed until shortly after Christmas. To my delight, Sonia kindly accepted the invitation straightaway. We discussed various options including a duo photo shoot but eventually that concept was replaced by a photo shoot focusing on Sonia all by herself.
Our agreed meeting point was at the Petit Arc de Triomphe, just opposite the Musée du Louvre, a perfect place to start a pleasant walk in the direction of the Eiffel Tower. The previous day, it was rainy in the afternoon which forced me to find a suitable indoor location just before the arrival of the second model scheduled that day. Fortunately, the next day brought dry weather so I decided to walk from my hotel near Gare de l'Est to the meeting point with Sonia. Choosing two straight lines (first all the way down Boulevard Sebastopol, then Rue de Rivoli) enabled me to reach the meeting point well before the time agreed with Sonia so I went for a quick reconnaissance walk towards the Eiffel Tower. I had every inch of trust in Sonia as my guide but it's always handy to have an impression of the area before doing the actual photo shoot. Fortunately there were many suitable locations, the very best of which was already taken by the participants of a model photography course! Half a dozen men armed with large, expensive cameras, listening to their teacher, and a lovely model patiently waiting for the next instructions. It made a nice, interesting sighting.
Arriving back at the meeting point well in time, there was clearly no need to worry about missing each other in the crowds. There were more street vendors than tourists near the Arc and it struck me that they were all selling the same goods - either hats or small replicas of the Eiffel Tower. None of them had a real niche.
Sonia and I recognized each other from a distance and we waved. She was accompanied by her younger brother who was appointed our assistant straightaway. His name was Helder and his presence was instrumental other respects as well. It's often convenient for a model to have someone familiar serving as a beacon during a photo shoot.
Here we see Sonia posing in a beautiful pair of Silhouette glasses made in the 1970's. The black cap ("baret" in French) is a stereotype - as French as French can be.
donderdag 25 februari 2016
"Celtic Mia and the Power of the Light - a fairy tale from Paris". This fine portrait of Mia with her radiant smile concludes an epic photo shoot. Mia is the 68th Lady behind Crystal Veil.
A word of thanks goes to the staff of bar / restaurant INARO (www.inaro.fr), Rue Eené Boulanger, for their kind permission to do the final part of the photo shoot in their premises. Much appreciated!
Mia, it was my privilege and honour to work with you! One of the factors that made your photo shoot something very special is that you worked in the U.S. for various brands like Luxottica. This means that you were already well familiar with doing photo shoots in glasses. Being blessed with perfect eyesight, posing for the brands in glasses with plano lenses or even in empty frames must have been a natural experience for you. However, doing a photo shoot in real prescription glasses is a different ball game altogether. It calls for an open minded approach but our email exchange preceding the actual photo shoot already reassured me in many ways. What struck me straightaway is that we had a real connection in our correspondence. The same thing happened when we met in the hotel lobby and walked to the park (Jardin Villemin). Lively talks, lots of laughter. I immediately felt at ease with you and this was clearly mutual. As a result, the actual photo shoot went all by itself and it never gave me the impression that we were working hard. My foresight to bring a very warm ladies cardigan was instrumental and it's safe to say that this added to the quality of many photos. The variety in your posing style was simply amazing. You took directions quite well but you added many dimensions of your own and it made an excellent blend. An excellent example is the half dozen pictures taken on Boulevard Magenta. This was the moment I realized that a concept for a script (already in my mind) might become reality. The final part of the photo shoot was impromptu but it's safe to say that it yielded some of the best portraits. You are not only a great model but also a young lady who does not mind improvising on the spot. After our goodbye I walked back to the hotel with a big smile on my face. This had been good, really good and somehow I was not worried at all about the quality of the photos. This turned out to be right when the photos emerged on my computer screen after returning to the Netherlands. Even better, much of the connection we both felt and spoke about came through in the portraits. This enabled me to write a fairy tale story ("Celtic Mia and the Power of Light") to accompany the photos in the documentary. I was delighted that you liked the preliminary outline and more recently also the full story line. Thank you for correcting a slip of the pen in one phrase. Your knowledge of the Italian language is far better than mine. Not to be outdone, it was my pleasure to bring in bits and pieces in the Irish language :). Quite appropriately, the management summary of the three hours in your sparkling company is the title of a well known Irish double jig from the repertoire of the legendary master piper Seámus Ennis (1919-1982). It's called "Happy to meet, sorry to part". When we parted, there was only one conclusion. Our paths simply will have to cross again so that we can produce some more magic - fairy tale of not!
A brief silence followed as neither of them dared to speak.
"There is a documentary about Bob Dylan in the sixties and it's called 'Don't look back'. Did you see it, Mia? And what do you think of the title with our three hours in mind?"
"All I can say is that it has been a roller coaster. I was in the park, waiting for a photographer but he did not turn up. That's a mortal sin in this profession. He can expect an angry email form me, that's for sure. Anyway, I zoomed in on my practice of the hue and out of the blue, there was you. And the ball started rolling.... On and on and on, like the wheel of fortune. All the loose ends.... but perhaps it was meant to be this way. Looking back, I put in a lot and so did you, in a completely different way. It opened my eyes in many respects and it opened your eyes as well, if I may make so bold. My five minutes in front of the mirror were timeless and it was an experience never to be forgotten. So forget about the Bob Dylan title. I will look back and so will you. Do send me the photos. I may not look at them straightaway but I will and that's a promise"
"Mia, there was a connection between us right from the start and I can't imagine that we will never meet again. Don't know where, don't know when, but I know that we will meet again"
"Some sunny day, preferably"
"Don't forget to take the glasses off. And by the way, there is no need to send an angry email to that stupid photographer"
"Why is that, Lord Lentilux?"
"You just worked with him"
"You..... " (radiant smile) "Big hug?"
"Is everything alright with you, Mia? All of a sudden, you look tired, shall we stop?"
"Yes, the concentration is fading away. You see, combining the posing and the hue.... not to speak of the constant adaptation to your magic glasses.... I think we should call it a day"
"Agreed. Let's just talk for a few moments and forgive me if I do the occasional snap. All of a sudden I'm becoming aware of how addictions can built op"
"Modelling is a hard job, Rob, from both sides the camera. Thanks for your honesty"
"Perfection, Mia.... Imperfect perfection"
"Yes, next pair but let's be wise. Please take off the glasses"
"I don't feel any strain. Do you see any?"
"No, at least not yet, but this is not science and I feel responsible"
"The break may take me out of the flow but this time we'll do it your way, Lord Lentilux"
"Thank you, Mia and sorry.... Noblesse oblige"
"This is even better, Mia. Fantastic posing, nostalgia at its very best. All we need now for these photos is a bit of nostalgic editing. Perhaps in black and white. I'll see what I can do at home. Colour photography was quite rare in the days of the cat eye glasses"
"You are more and more sounding like a real photographer, Rob, and you clearly enjoy this. You missed a career opportunity, perhaps even a vocation. How about another pose?"
"Now that was a swift switch, wasn't it, My Lord?"
"It was. How are your eyes?"
"Fine. I can see everything crystal clear and there is no strain. By the way, which pair of glasses is this, on my nose? I'm blind as a bat without glasses and it all went as quick as lightning"
"You are now wearing the purple cat eye glasses. Do you remember them from when you inspected the box?"
"I do. They looked really nostalgic. Cat eye glasses are great. Do they suit me?"
"Yes, they do. A bit on the wide side but any pose except 'en face' will be fine. By the way, my Lady Nel wears the same glasses in everyday life"
"It's nice to hear that. Give her my regards when you get home form Paris. I like the way you are giving instructions for the posing. You picked it up quite fast. I will try some nostalgic posing from the days of Marilyn Monroe"
"Well done, Mia. Next pair?"
"Yes, please. I have a suggestion. You said earlier on that all these modern glasses have the same prescription. Is it necessary to go back to my 20/20 vision? What happens if you pass me the next pair and I switch glasses straightaway?"
"In theory, there should be no problem. Let's give it a try but let me know if your eyes are giving you trouble. I don't want to take any risks with your eyes"
"Neither do I. But let's try it my way. It may save us a lot of time"
It's amazing how fashion can change abruptly. Six years ago, the pair shown here by Mia was regarded as average size. Nowadays it would be called small. In 2010, the black hipster glasses craze put an end to two decades of rather dull, tiny frames. End of lecture.... let's get back to the eccentric Lord Lentilux and his celebrity model in the restaurant in Paris.
"Lovely, brilliant. Thank you, Mia. Would you like to see this on the display?"
"No, thank you, I prefer to have the photos sent to me if that's alright with you. There are some glasses left in the box and they look brand new to me, am I right?"
"Yes, they are new or at least contemporary. And of course I will send you all the photos. Promised"
"That's grand. The new glasses are prescription, aren't they?"
"Indeed they are. All the prescriptions are identical. Minus eight"
"Why is that?"
"Minus eight is strong but not extreme. It brings more magic to the glasses"
"Alright, let's give them a try before we hit the road"
It turned out that there were two vintage glasses left in the box and after some discussion, the model chose to pose in French glasses by Récé first. A regular visitor of the restaurant quietly joined the model and her photographer. He did not interfere with the photo shoot, he was just watching the work with a smile on his face.