01 Jun Christian Metzler Portfolio
Interview: Alexander Dosiehn
Christian Metzler is an internationally known collector of vintage eyewear and highly talented photographer – all wrapped into one person. To no surprise, Christian likes to aim his lens at interesting characters wearing just as interesting pieces of eyewear. For this issue’s Portfolio segment, EYEWEAR’s Vintage Editor, Alexander Dosiehn, had a chance to rummage through Christian’s archives and talk about his creative process.
Hello Christian, it’s always a pleasure to talk shop with a fellow collector about our mutual passion. Today we’re looking at your work as a photographer. Do you see it as a job or a higher calling?
Thanks a lot for being interested not only in my passion for eyewear, but also the fruits of my day job (laughs). Working as a photographer is a dream come true for me. There’s never been a day, ever since my days as an apprentice, when I regretted taking that leap of faith. Every day I’m looking forward to getting out of bed and pursuing my “job”. So I’m really living my dream and making a living off my passion. And that could be considered a “higher calling”, I guess.
People can feel it when they look at your photographs. The photos we’re showing in this segment predominantly feature characters wearing rare vintage eyewear. Do you supply the glasses for the shoots, or do your models bring their own?
That really depends. A lot of the people shown here didn’t need me to supply them with glasses, since they happen to be passionate eyewear collectors of their own, most of them photographed during eyewear meet-ups. But I can definitely say about one certain shot, that I gave the young man the inspiration to start collecting eyewear. So you could say I hooked him up.
On some of my commissioned jobs, I provide glasses to the models or musicians. I like to bring a good selection of frames to every shoot, just in case. And when I’m shooting a rapper, the line-up I bring is different than shooting a fashion story. Most of the time, we’ll go through my frames together and pick the right glasses. They’ll say stuff like, “I want a photo with the Notorious BIG glasses!” Or, “Are you bringing a couple of CAZALs?” But I surely hope that my glasses aren’t the only reason clients will choose me, and my photography also plays a part. But hey, having an extensive eyewear collection has surely proven a bonus.
How about your day-to-day work? What are your jobs outside the eyewear universe? What type of photographer are you?
I consider myself as a people photographer, meaning that my photographic work always revolves around human beings. My clients include advertising agencies, musicians, music labels, companies, jewelry manufacturers, but also private customers. I offer advertising photography, CD artwork and also take photos at weddings. I love working with people, directing a shoot, setting the lighting, and then sitting at my computer in the studio and fine-tuning my work. To me as a photographer it’s always important that my subject feels comfortable. I would describe myself as a kind-natured photographer tuned into the current zeitgeist with an elevated taste.
You not only exhibit distinct taste in your eyewear choices. Your entire style, including tattoos, outfits, jewelry, and your car all contribute to making you an overall “vintage body of work”. How would you describe your personal style and how did it evolve?
Wow thanks for the compliment. I like “vintage body of work” a lot! The starting point was definitely vintage eyewear. And at some point I noticed that the same manufacturers from those times had also made other nice products that I liked. That’s when bags, jewelry, watches and clothing came into the mix. I like the luxury of days gone by. It’s affordable, stylish, and offers enduring value. The Benz I’m currently driving, a 300CE 24V from 1992, was my girlfriend’s suggestion. She was up in arms against getting a Fiat Multipla. And she was right – of course! From time to time, I like bringing some of these items to my assignments, for instance a silk shirt by Versace, some Chanel jewelry or an MCM suitcase. And if it’s a good fit, they become part of the scene. But that tends to be the exception to the rule.
Both of us are great fans of the Cazal brand. And we have a mutual friend who is shooting the photos for the current Cazal campaign. Wouldn’t that kind of gig be a dream job for you – even for some other brands?
Well, of course! I would love it – and not just for Cazal. I love the entire world of eyewear and there are so many large and small manufacturers that I would be happy to work for. What our friend Armen is doing for Cazal is so incredible, such great work. And I have to admit I’m a little jealous. But at least, Armen getting the job means they have a photographer who’s great at what he’s doing, has good ideas and taste, and a good heart on top of that. I met him last year in NYC and he’s also pictured in this portfolio. Just a great dude!
Cazal Phanatic I
Dameion “Rhythmchild” Williams
Starting with a Cazal 906, Dameion used the temples of a 627 together with hand-crafted inner rings to create his own 642/3 model, all made from original vintage Cazal spare parts and his own, rich imagination.
“This photo happened at a time when I flew to New York for shooting a Cazal lookbook. Dameion was one of the models for the lookbook and a seasoned collector of Cazal eyewear. And he’s also an inventor of some great frames on top of that, some of which even ended up becoming official Cazal pieces. It was a great opportunity to shoot these guys on the streets of Brooklyn with their collection.”
Armen Djerrahian and Dameion Williams
Glasses: Cazal 616 Col 131
“It’s never easy to take pictures when the subject happens to be a great photographer. But when it’s combined with a passion for eyewear and the shoot is set in Brooklyn, it’s a real blessing. I feel honored for getting the chance to take this photo.”
Trve Hill aka DJ TowB
Glasses: Vintage Marcolin with Clip-On
“Trve Hill asked me to take some new press photos and we ended up climbing on a rooftop in Stuttgart. I like the brooding atmosphere and the architecture in the background.”
Glasses: Jean Paul Gaultier 56-8171
“Davy started out as my Instagram friend, then we also became friends in real life. Recently we met up spontaneously in Berlin. Davy works as a model so I thought that an impromptu photo shoot would be a great idea, since he already happened to be in town. Fortunately, I had a few glasses in my trunk and the 56-8171 was a natural fit. That’s how this rather dark portrait happened. Quick one, but came out nice.”
Glasses: Gianni Versace Update 676
“This is a freestyle piece, and somewhat a joke. I had the Darth Vader mask at home and got the idea that the UPDATE frame would be exactly what Darth Vader would wear chilling at home. And the frame also happened to be a constant companion of Lady Gaga’s, worn frequently at the start of her career. So I put them all together, and that’s how this photo happened.”
“SwaggMan is a rapper from Paris and an Instagram friend of mine. We have been following each other’s accounts for a while now, all based on our shared interest in vintage eyewear. In 2013, we ended up both being in New York at the same time and made plans to meet up, which fell through for scheduling reasons. But when I was cruising down 5th Avenue on my last night in NYC, I happened to spot somebody wearing sunglasses. And taking a closer look, we instantly recognized each other. SwaggMan – fate brought us together on the city streets. Since then we have been talking on the phone regularly about eyewear and vintage collector’s items.”
Armen Djerrahian und Dameion Williams
Glasses: Cazal 642
“When I met up with Armen and Dameion in Brooklyn to shoot some pieces from their Cazal collections, this Cadillac happened to drive by. Armen simply waved down the driver and hijacked the ride. After we had blocked two entire lanes for ten minutes, the police casually asked us to clear the road. This kind of thing only happens in NYC.”