There are real mermaids swimming out there in the world. Some are in the US, but there are three of them living here in the UK. Francesca Dubery, Mairead Kelly and Demelza Hillier recently hosted a Mermaid themed photo shoot in Peterborough. A company there has a large aquatic tank with glass windows, making it possible to photograph people swimming underwater without requiring special gear. If you are curious to do something similar yourself, then have a look at Merlesque’s webpage. Renting the tank is quite expensive, so to finance it we were three groups of five photographers that had been invited. This was the first time I have paid to attend a workshop. I was booked in for the second session, but arrived a bit early so I could spy on the previous group and get some inspiration. Not very British of me. Each group would photograph one model as mermaid and one model as human, to mix things up a bit.
Below are the photos I took from our shoot. By standing on the long end we had much less water between the camera and the model, which made for much clearer photos than the few snapshots I took while waiting. One thing to watch out for if you decide to do something similar is the reflections in the glass. There were quite a lot of my photos where I in the post processing needed to remove either a photographer or something else behind me that was visible. Also making sure the window frames were not visible was important.
In the morning before our three groups of hobby photographers arrived Merlesque had had their own photographers, and I had a quick chat with them before our session started. They had used different lighting setups using strobes. One of them recommended shooting half portraits, which I was thinking of trying but after getting splashed by one of the mermaids I decided not to swap lenses to avoid getting moisture in the camera. At the end of the day I was quite happy with having my wide angle shots. There was a bit of juggling with the other photographers to make sure we were not in each other’s way, but it went quite well. Another tip I got was to shoot a lot of photos, since there are so many variables you cannot control: air bubbles, the model’s positioning in the tank and little debris floating around. There is virtually no communication with the model while she is underwater. She simply can’t see or hear us under water. So you need to be ready when all the things fall into place.
An hour of photography goes really quickly. Going to Peterborough was a bit of a trip, but I am really happy with how it turned out. If you are in need of Mermaids for some event, then I can recommend talking to Francesca, Mairead and Demelza, their webpage is linked in the introduction of this post. Thanks to everyone that helped make this happen!