I am working a personal photo project of people with unsual eye colours. You can read background in Part 1 of this article.

The success of my approach over the past few months is noticeable in the following few events from the past few days or weeks:

  • A few months ago I met someone with blue-green eyes and an orange streak in her one eye. I explained to her what series I was working on and a few weeks later I arranged an eye and face shoot with her. (shown above)
  • I met a girl on campus a few weeks ago and she said “Oh, you’re the guy who takes photos of people’s eyes” and she explained that she had heard about it through her sister, who I had asked involved because of her blue-green-yellow-brown eyes.
  • A few weeks ago, Varsity newspaper did a year-end centre spread on all the members and I got a description as the photographer. I was described as going up to people, telling them they have pretty eyes and asking if I can photograph them. I’ve bit more tactical than that, but it’s still the essence of  what I do. What actually happens, is that I ask someone with bright blue eyes if they receive a lot of comments about their eyes, or I tell someone with green eyes that I can see brown in the middle of their eyes, or I just open the conversation by asking if they have come across anyone with two different coloured eyes before asking if they would be interested in joining the project.
  • At a UCT residence party, I met an African girl with blue contact lenses – I asked to contact me and a few weeks later she came for a shoot which turned out really well. If you want to see the close-up of the contact lens, come to the event in January 2013.

  • I was on about 70 eyes and I realised I needed a large boost to get to 100 soon, so I asked to take eye photos of the members of the UCT choir. I had helped them out with event and CD cover photos before, so they were happy to lend me their eyes. I ended up with a diverse group of 22 or so people, covering guys and girls, light and dark skin and with eyes that are blue, green, or brown…
  • I’ve started conversations before among groups, concerning eye colours. It was more comfortable for the friends to ask to see each others eyes and to ask people to join, where I was just an observer. In fact at one point, a whole table of 6 or so people was talking about it, then a guy arrived at the table. He asked why everyone was staring at him and someone explained that they were looking at his eye colour.
  • There are stories I’ve heard about my project sparking conversations even when I am not there. For example a friend said she was sitting as a computer with friends and browsing my eye photos online. She says that they started to check out each others eyes.
  • As per the previous point,  I say that this project works well because it gets people talking, it is “remarkable”. When I talk to people about it or other people have conversations about it, they have an opinion. On whether eye photos are beautiful or creepy, whether coloured contacts are cool or cheating and whether they know anyone with mixed eye colours.
  • I spoke to coloured a guy today with dark blue eyes. I went up to him on campus with my card and some prints to explain what I was doing. I brought a friend with me to help convince him – she is a big fan of my photos.
  • From taking photos at a previous UCT event, I knew of a coloured girl on campus with blue eyes and I got the chance to speak to her today. She did remember me from the event. When I told her about my project, she told me a friend had actually told her about it and she was keen to do it.
  • I found someone yesterday who I had been meaning to ask about eye photos. She was fascinated by the prints I showed her so I asked to do her eye photos there and then, on campus sitting on a bench outdoors in the foodcourt. She also said she knows two sisters who have a large collection of contact lenses who would be keen to be in the photos. I got a message today from the one saying that they would like to join the project.
  • I photographed a friend’s eyes as part of my series of 22 or so of people in the UCT choir. I saw him at the performance where he was wearing his green contacts, and he was keen to have them photographed after the event, which was lucky since I had the right lens and flash with me.

A bit of marketing theory which fits with what I am doing… while sudying for a marketing exam for the end of 2012, I came a cross reading which describes the death of Advertising and the rise of Public Relations. The article explains that since the 1970s already, people found advertising an overload of information and not credible, especially when launching a new brand. The article emphasies the benefits of PR in marketing, around positive word of mouth among customers and getting the media, celebreties and other sources to endorse what the business does, with more credibility.

Part 3 of this blog series.