Inspired by the mermaid exhibit at Buxton Museum, I thought it would be interesting to photograph some real-life, modern day mermaids. I’ll be posting the images soon but, in the spirit of working out loud, thought I’d share some of my outtakes.

I’ve spent 15 years working in picture libraries, including an old Fleet Street archive of 13 million images, dating back to the birth of photography. Think photos of Queen Victoria laughing and opium dens in Shanghai. My all-time favourites were the grainy snapshots of 1950’s America, when men wore hats and the entire high street looked cool. Though these everyday snapshots had been kicking around for decades, until they looked like litter, they still had a dash of magic about them, a cinematic charm. This was not the sanitised beauty of Mad Men but the rough growl of Tom Waits.

When I came to take my own pictures, I did my best to focus and take a ‘professional’ shot but the funny thing was, the less perfect my photos were, the more I liked them. They looked more authentic, as if they were taken in some old Long Island Freak show. It reminded me that there’s no right way to take a photo.

So, here are a few of my ‘outtakes’ that are now, proudly, back in. Huge thanks to Maša, a pin-sharp academic and National champion free-diver, who spent hours under ice-cold water and made it look effortless. Though I know Maša as a friend, when I first saw her swim by, my heart jumped. I thought, “Wow! Look! A Mermaid!’




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