woensdag 26 oktober 2016

Monique 096

My photo project with "Ladies behind crystal veil" did not start as something intentional. My giant collection of glasses was simply a collection quietly built up over a period of almost four decades. Occasionally, lady visitors to the house saw a small part of the collection and several ladies were eager to try some of the glasses. They even asked me to take a couple of snapshots, just for  fun. But I never saw the real potential of the collection. In retrospect, it all started to happen one day in May, 2008 when I came across an amazing picture of a lady in glasses. There was something there and she fascinated me. Fortunately I was able to contact her and we first met on June 14th. Our first date was great so we started seeing each other on a regular basis. What struck me was that the lady seemed to have a substantial collection of glasses. She even switched glasses on our first date and on each next occasion she appeared in different glasses again. It took three dates before the lady showed me that what I had seen was in fact the same pair of glasses all the time. The only difference was that she had a collection of clips in various colors and shapes. The lady was Nel and we soon started a relation that is still going strong after eight years.
In retrospect, Nel was my first model. We did two photo shoots in glasses from my collection and another photo shoot in her own classes with all the various clips. It was Nel who saw the potential of my collection. She realized that her strong prescription made only a fraction of my collection suitable for posing. And then she said, "You should find other ladies to pose in all your glasses". I hesitated a few moments - memories of jealous partners from the past went through my head. But Nel started suggesting names of ladies in the know as possible candidates. Neighbors like Irma and Clarine, friends like Brigitta and so on. And then the ball started rolling. Of course, Nel and I did discuss a latent risk of me doing photo shoots with other women. We were both aware that doing an extended portrait photo shoot with a lady might imply an element of intimacy. But it soon turned out that there was never anything to worry about, for any of us. The element of intimacy was there alright, but it was platonic, innocent intimacy. It turned out to be surprisingly easy to handle each new photo shoot in a professional manner, based on mutual trust between model and photographer. I suppose the age factor and my life history of serial monogamy made things a lot easier. Another factor at stake is that my taste for ladies has always remained the same over five decades. The girls and later, women in my life were always near my own age.
The easiest way to document the project was starting a weblog and this was simply meant as a catalog showing all the glasses in my vast collection. I never expected any interest from outside. But within a couple of months, it turned out that people were discussing the photo shoots, wondering who the photographer might be. I introduced myself to them and the rest is history. Two years later, one of my followers in the UK suggested that my work had enough quality to try my chances on Model Mayhem. I did not expect any real interest among freelance models but this soon turned out to be a miscalculation. The first casting call (in the Netherlands) resulted in over a dozen applications and I was amazed by the quality of the models who reacted. Nel and I had another discussion about the potential risks but it soon turned out that working with young freelance models was even easier than working with middle aged amateur models. The age factor and the professionalism of the freelance models offered perfect protection. Nel was amazed by the way the project kept developing itself as it progressed. She always kept supporting the project in many ways, including raising interest among potential models.
Nel was the catalyst of the project and it had a gradual effect on the way she looked at herself in her strong glasses. Nel is far from shy, quite outward and blessed with a rock solid personality. However, I remember one moment of self awareness during our first date. It was a rainy evening and she stopped to clean the lenses of her glasses, holding them near the tip of her nose, saying "My eyesight is quite bad". She did not look at me and it ran through my head that she was half awaiting rejection because of her strong glasses. My answer was simply, "You have lovely eyes and the glasses look great on you". That was it. Problem solved. When we did our first photo shoots, Nel was amazed by the variety of glasses near her own prescription in my collection. She mentioned the astronomic cost of her own glasses - well over 1200 Euro - and that this made her choose the glasses with all the various clips.
Zenni came into the picture just a few weeks after I embarked on the photography project. Many amateur models were happy with a free pair of glasses in their own prescription. I ordered lots of glasses from Zenni so that models could make a choice after seeing the photos. Nel was interested to try the new arrivals from Zenni as well. Unfortunately, her prescription was too high as Zenni has an upper limit of -10.00 for progressive lenses. This problem was soon solved when I came across ciliaryblue in England. Nel now has a nice, varied collection of glasses and she can choose the pair of the day, depending on her outfit of the day. It makes all the difference in the world if one pays 300 instead of over 1200 Euro for a pair of new glasses, fitted with 1.74 high index progressive lenses. Nel now says that she would never switch to contact lenses, even if she could.
There was a big surprise at my 66th birthday, in August. Nel had given me several of her old glasses during the early years of the project, but this time she gave me her Zenka glasses with all the clips. The glasses shown in the photo that fascinated me, the glasses she was wearing at our first dates. It made me feel a bit shy as these glasses are a part of our history. But Nel insisted that she had no use for them anymore. High myopia tends to be progressive and although it's a slow process in her case, she had a couple of increases over the past eight years. Her glasses were minus ten when we met and now they are minus twelve.
With this background, it seemed a good idea to bring the glasses with the clips to Berlin, just in case. Monique and Nel met each other during the selection of the glasses in our apartment. It struck us that several of Nel's own Zenni glasses really suited Monique. So how about asking Monique to try Nel's old Zenka glasses with the clips? The answer is given in the above photo. A perfect match!

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