maandag 24 oktober 2016
Glasses: Sferoflex, 1980's (cataract glasses)
[L: +11.00; c+1.00 o / R: +10.00]
My photography project is not just about the history of fashion but also about the effect of the prescription lenses in the glasses. My approach is the opposite of what always has been - and still is - common practice among brands and opticians chains. They hire professional photographers and models who pose in glasses with plano lenses or even worse, empty frames. In other words, they are only showing half the product they are trying to sell to their customers. Even in my school days, this practice struck me as odd and even silly. Did you ever see a commercial showing only half a car? It would bring you nowhere. And sure enough, wearing empty frames would be useless to customers who really needs glasses in daily life. So what's he point? Does it have to do with the silly quest for perfection? Nobody is perfect and it's much better to create "perfect imperfection" in photography that focuses on glasses.
The lenticular glasses shown here by Monique are long extinct in the streets. They were prescribed to anyone who had undergone cataract surgery. Removal of the eye lenses meant that the patient was dependent on extremely strong glasses for long sight. It was notoriously difficult to get used to these glasses, especially the calculation of distances. Nowadays, the standard procedure is that the patient gets IOL implants straight or very shortly after the surgery. The glasses shown here by Monique were a buy in a Welsh charity shop around the turn of the Millennium. It was a memorable occasion. The shop was run by three friendly, talkative old ladies. When I asked them if they had any prescription glasses in the shop, they held a brief conference. Then the strongest lady produced a giant crate filled to the brim with hundreds of old prescription glasses. This was far more than what could be squeezed into my rucksack so I asked the ladies if they had a table to spread the glasses out. My then life partner Coby and I spent an hour selecting the glasses. The three old ladies were so intrigued by my mission that they let us partake of their advice about every single pair in the crate. In many cases, they even exchanged the name of the first owners of the glasses, swapping stories about what happened to them.
It's extremely difficult to take satisfatory portraits of people wearing lenticular glasses. Part of the problem is the strong centrifugal power in the lenses but that can be solved by choosing the proper vantage points. The real problem is the immense glare caused by the extreme curve in the lenses. Only one of the five portraits showing Monique in these glasses lent itself for retouching. The good news is that Monique kindly agreed to give these glasses another go during the second part. So stay tuned....