You tend to forget the human being behind the uniform. People in (para) military uniforms stand out and have an imposing effect on others.
That was my experience when my young neighbor girl grew out to be an independent woman and joined the Navy. She’s an officer nowadays and if I see her in her uniform I can’t believe that she’s the same person as that hopping girl from next door. Stupid of course, because she’s still the bright and vibrant girl as I know her from back then. It’s just the uniform that changes my view upon her at that moment.
The concept intrigued me and I decided to make portraits of Dutch navy women in the two different situations. First in uniform in and around their barracks and later I visited them in their home environment to see who they are outside their military life. Each time I was surprised when they opened their front doors for me. The transformation was amazing, their personalities came to life.
In our conversations I was curious why they joined the navy and if they’re aware of the consequences of this decision. I kept thinking of my neighbor girl and friend defending our sea shores or fighting against terrorism when the unpredictable future would ask for that.