The nature—and existence—of true love has been highly debated throughout all of the ages of human history. Is it really possible to fall in love upon seeing someone for the first time? Is there a fate, a destiny, about love that can be felt by some souls? Do we travel through multiple lifetimes with the same soul-mate over and over again, until we recognise him or her instantaneously? Do we have, as Plato believed, a true “other half” produced by our souls dividing as they fall from heaven to earth? Or sometimes do we simply see someone so compelling that they spark a sort of dream in us, and through sheer cosmic chance, that feeling proves mutual?
For all of our eons of philosophising, and despite all of our modern scientific research, we still do not really know what causes the feeling of love at first sight—it remains an enduring, enchanting mystery which inspires artists, writers, thinkers, and dreamers all over the world.
There is one thing about true love we know for certain, however: It often occurs at the most unlikely times, and sometimes in the most unromantic of situations; it is invariably something of a cosmic shock to those who experience it, and often a single flippant decision was responsible for making possible the wondrous union.
The unlikely meeting of Karen and Martins is a perfect example of the above phenomenon. In June 2013, Karen decided to leaves Cyprus and return to her home country, the Netherlands. Naturally, as her co-workers were sorry to see her go, they organised (in true Mediterranean style!) a massive going-away party for her, and the night got so wild that one of Karen’s colleagues pulled her into the shallow end of a swimming pool. Alas, Karen’s party ended with a bang, literally, leaving her with a scratched cheek and a collection of bumps on her chin and forehead.
When her friends tried to convince her to attend their “Lost at Sea” boat party the following day, Karen—tired, wounded, and slightly hungover—was truly in no mood to go. After much dedicated cajoling on the part of her friends, however, she relented—and that is where she saw Martins for the first time. Immediately, her sour mood dissipated and her heart lit up; forgetting the pain in her face and head, she made her way to the other side of the boat and struck up a conversation. The magic kindled at once, and the two flirted the night away. They have been together ever since.
I chose to shoot Karen and Martins at Kourion, Cyprus, owing to the dramatic cliffs there. These cliffs are known for being the site of an ancient settlement (whose occupants carved out the various niches found in them), lending the landscape a sense of timelessness as well as natural drama and beauty. This, I felt, was perfect to symbolise love at first sight—a mystery which has been with us since the dawn of our history, and which is as fathomless, moving, and primal as nature itself.