Brussels-based photographers Julie David De Lossy and Colin Delfosse had visited Ukraine to capture shots of the picturesque shores of Sevastopol, but they kept hearing about the city of Nikolaev and its beautiful women. They decided to take another trip.
"It is really impressive when you walk in the main street of this town and you have the feeling a super posh party is about to start, but it’s only 10am," Julie said.
She planned on simply showcasing their beauty by photographing ladies on the street, but then she discovered the myriad of marriage agencies.
"Known for being the city with the highest rate of beautiful women in Ukraine and having an intriguing 6 women for 1 man ratio, Nikolaev counts more than 200 wedding agencies around the city dedicated to western souls in quest for true love," Julie explains in the introduction of her photo series, "My Ukrainian Wedding."
The series challenges stereotypes about the women who enlist with the agencies by creating diptychs of two women - one from an agency, one not - and letting viewers differentiate between the two.
While many agencies they contacted were suspicious about their intentions, since such establishments often battle harsh criticism, two did allow the photographers to meet with some of their members. They learned the women are as smart as they are sexy.
"The girls get a good education... but have almost no prospect of finding a husband. So they look abroad," Julie said. She also learned that some girls are embarrassed to advertise their involvement with international dating due to offensive comparisons to prostitution.
Furthermore, many want to fight the stereotype that they are gold diggers.
"[While some women] pretend to be in love, take as much as they can - visa, wedding, money - and suddenly, 'Sorry, but I am not in love anymore, darling,'... that’s far from universally true," Julie said. Some brides feel that this stereotype "undermines the sincerity of their will to find true Western love."
Take a look at the photo series.
Oksana and Olga. Olga is a member of a dating agency.
Oksana and Cniejana. Oksana is a member of a dating agency.
Ira and Aliona. Ira is a member of a dating agency.
Ielena and Olga. Olga is a member of a dating agency.
Aleksandra and Tania. Aleksandra is a member of a dating agency.
Maria and Katia. Maria is a member of a dating agency.