There are, as I have pointed out before on countless posts, many themes, projects or topics upon which one can do a photographic project.
From real life subjects like models, animals, flora, landscapes, weather patterns, architectural pieces, macro and many more to creations of the mind.
Mythical creatures or creatures from the fancy of the human mind are also adaptable to include in a photo project. Mermaids, if they were real, would perhaps not look attractive and as seductively as they are typically portrayed in literature and films.
But thanks to the minds of some authors and our desire for everything to be beautiful and pleasing to the eye, we have made them to appear as a seductive beautiful conjoining of a human with a fish.
Mermaids are associated with the Sirens of Greek mythology and with the Sirenia, a biological order which comprises dugongs and manatees. Historical sightings by sailors may have been the result of misunderstood encounters with these aquatic mammals.
Christopher Columbus reported seeing mermaids while exploring the Caribbean, and sightings have been reported in the 20th and 21st centuries in Canada, Israel, and Zimbabwe. The US National Ocean Service stated in 2012 that no evidence of mermaids has ever been found.
Mermaids have been a popular subject of art and literature in recent centuries. Danish author Hans Christian Andersen wrote his popular fairy tale "The Little Mermaid" in 1836. They have subsequently been depicted in opera, paintings, books, films, and comics."Wikipedia
As the project is based on creatures that live in water, mostly the oceans, you should plan accordingly and do the shoot near or even in the water and large pools work very well. So far as costumes, you can obtain them from several costumes shops but your best alternative is to seek out a movie prop store and rent it from them.
The tail portions are best bought or rented but the chest pieces are easily made at home. If the costume does not bring realistic looking pieces then it is best to make your own and adapt them to the theme. Large real seashells work really well but you should add some padding to their insides to make them more comfortable for the model to wear. If using shells, make sure to sand the edges too as they can easily cut the skin.
You are creating an artistic piece through your photographic mind, so although public shows featuring mermaids have them wear bikini tops, this is not realistic. Yes they do not exist, but you should try to make everything as "real" as possible. Make your audience think that they are real and fall in love with your work.
Pay attention to the seams in the costumes. If they show up to prominently in the photos, then blend them in with a digital program. The cloning tool is quite useful for this application, just use a small size brush and work in small increments one section at a time.
Another good technique is to digitally manipulate the photos and add the mermaid elements this way. This is easily done by using the layers tools, but basically this involves combining two images into one. This way allows you to be more creative and pose your models in unusual situations and locales where wearing a full body mermaid costume will not prove to be feasible.
Keep in mind that you are more than likely have to photograph nudes, perhaps with a chest piece and do the tail later.
When ready to start, first choose a suitable location and ensure that it is a safe environment for you and your models. You should also plan on having a certified scuba diver along ready to assist the models if you choose to include underwater scenes. A make up artist and a hair stylist are not crucial since the water will most likely alienate their work, but for out of the water scenes, their help and expertise are surely warranted.
Use a lens that allows you to crop on the spot in case there are some unsightly elements that you do not want to include in your shots. A regular flash unit and a reflector will also be necessary. The time of day should be close to dawn or sunset as this light is the best for photography. Usually called the "golden hour" the light is often diffused thus "softer" and helps to eliminate harsh shadows.
If doing the project under the water,then there are other specialized gear that must be used, but this is mostly an underwater ready camera and a powerful flash unit.
However underwater photos should be done by a model who is familiar with working under these conditions and can handle as well as maneuver with a restrictive mermaid tail.
It helps if there are rocks, sand and any other naturally occurring surfaces in the location where your model can be accommodated safely and comfortably.
The idea is to record image that are creative and seem real, although we generally accept that mermaids are mythical creations thus not real, an audience will appreciate if the shots look realistic and this should be your goal.
"A mermaid is a legendary aquatic creature with the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish. Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, and Asia.
The first stories appeared in ancient Assyria, in which the goddess Atargatis transforms herself into a mermaid out of shame for accidentally killing her human lover.
Mermaids are sometimes depicted as perilous creatures associated with floods, storms, shipwrecks, and drowning. In other folk traditions (or sometimes within the same tradition) they can be benevolent, bestowing boons or falling in love with humans." Wikipedia
© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez
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