It’s a difficult thing to capture a mermaid, on camera. The qualities that define them are as slippery as the bottom half of a fish. They’re fast, mercurial and fictitious, so the only time you get to see one for real is in your head. In movies, they’re sanitised, in pageants, they’re objectified and in myth, they’re really scary. So, it was with some trepidation that I photographed professional mermaids Anita and Maša for my Buxton Mermaid project. What type of creatures would they be?
I like the shot of Maša’s hair, wild and backlit as if it’s on fire. It looks like she’s at a rock concert. There’s a feral quality about her character that feels authentic – a smart, savage force of nature who is beguiling but watch out, she could drag you down to the deep.
The other image I like is the black and white one, the diagonal shot of Anita, descending into the ink. There’s an ‘other-worldly’ vibe ]that’s a wee bit scary. I don’t know if you’ve seen the mermaid exhibit at Buxton Museum but if you could sum her up in two syllables, ‘scary’ would be correct.
But the main feeling I came away with was one of joy. There is something magical about watching intelligent, articulate women spin and glide through the blue. It’s dance, it’s circus, it’s a Coney Island show. And yes, I know, it’s a woman dressed up but for one fleeting moment, it’s a mermaid. Flash and there’s the proof.