It was the day before my birthday and I was on a public beach wearing a bikini bottom, a purple wig, and a seashell bra. I felt a little like I was getting ready for a Lana Del Rey music video.
The photographer I hired agreed that the jetties would be the perfect location for my request, so we arrived just before sunset to ensure good lighting. And then I slipped into my mermaid tail.
I’ve been mermaiding for about four years, and I’ve done a few casual photoshoots, but this was my first time with a professional photographer. Whereas many professional mermaids have a lot of experience with modeling and performing in their tails, everything I’d done up to this point was with a friend or relative holding a point-and-shoot camera.
Some of the photos from prior beach visits had come out fine; a few were actually good, and the rest were . . . well, let’s just call them “a learning experience.” (Life hack: If you’re considering a costume photoshoot of any kind, I’d say it’s worthwhile to take a few practice shots in whatever you’ll be wearing!)
But for my birthday this year, though, I wanted the real deal. So I upgraded my costume, sought out a professional photographer, and made my classy mermaid photoshoot dreams come true.
You might be wondering: “But why?” Listen, I think everyone should have photos of themselves that make them feel GREAT. (And, I mean, just look at the photo above! When have I ever looked better?) Several people have told me they’re “jealous” of my photos—my response? You don’t have to be! Take some of your own! Chase your dream!
Since I’m also a firm believer in hiring professionals when you want professional results, I got to work: I searched for photographers local to the beach I’d be visiting. I was able to quickly pinpoint a favorite: Timeless by Tiffany Photography. But I was a little apprehensive; what if the idea of a mermaid photoshoot would be too nerdy or bizarre? I don’t like to make assumptions about what people are comfortable with just because I’m a gross millennial, I guess, so I sent an honest, friendly message laying out my “unconventional” idea to my first choice and waited.
Fortunately, she was totally down! It would be her first mermaid photoshoot, so we had that in common. All I needed to do was submit my down payment and we could nail down a date and location… In addition to scrambling to get the rest of my ensemble together.
See, for previous shoots, I had gone with my natural hair and no accessories, but since this was the real deal, I knew it was time to step it up a notch. The long purple wig was a no-brainer since I already fantasize about having thick and/or purple hair, and the shell bra was an upgrade from an old bikini top I’d decorated. I also knew I wanted a belt or wrap of some sort, since the tail tended look a bit awkward around the waist, especially when sitting. (Shameless plug: For my detailed mermaid photoshoot shopping list and additional photos, check out my blog!)
Not only was this my first professional mermaid shoot, it was the only real photoshoot I’ve done outside of, like, senior high school photos at the mall, and do those even count? All things considered, it was a unique and eye-opening experience. That said, there were some (minor) hiccups.
First: You know how Indiana Jones feels about snakes? That’s me with bugs. And there were bugs. Specifically, waves of weird gray bugs that disappeared into dark crevices when I walked toward rocks at the jetty’s edge. I cringed and almost turned back, but my photographer encouraged me, and I triumphed over my fears… I did, however, acquire about a dozen mosquito bites thanks to being out on the jetty after dark. I hate bugs.
Also? Photoshoots are exhausting. I’m now assuming that professional models need five water bottles and a nap after each shoot, because damn. (Not that I ever assumed it was easy!) In my case, I had to remove my tail and walk to each different location, which required balancing on steep rocks with bare feet. Putting on the tail is no party, either, and I have to assume it looks twice as awkward as it feels.
What’s more, I had some gnarly sunburns on my legs, and repeatedly sliding them into a tight and increasingly sandy spandex tunnel was not ideal. (Tip: If you’re doing a mermaid photoshoot on or near a beach, you need someone standing nearby with a towel you can use to wipe your hands off every time they get sandy. You’ll still wind up covered in sand, but at least you’ll be able get hair out of your eyes.)
I was also sweating like crazy, which might be a given considering I was wearing a plastic wig in direct sunlight during the summer, but yeah. I had also developed a heat rash on my neck by the next day, which I can only assume was the result of the wig trapping heat and moisture against my skin for an hour. Beauty is pain.
In the end, it was all totally worth it, because I loved my photos! Truly, I couldn’t have been happier with my results. Everything came together so well: the outfit, the location, and the super cool photographer. I really lucked out! I was so excited with the photos that I paid extra to add more to my final gallery than the package originally included. Birthday success!
When all was said and done, it was dark outside. I trudged back to my car in my now-sandy wig, lugging my mermaid tail. I was sore in lots of weird places (like my ribs, pressed into the hard sand for the above pose), and to some degree, I was relieved to be finished.
As we walked, my photographer turned to me and asked if I’d had fun. I laughed while I tried to think of an answer. I was exhausted. I was sweaty. Most of all, I was hopeful that I’d get some good photos out of the experience. “Fun” seemed like a stretch.
But then I realized: I just got to be Mermaid Neptune for an hour, and thanks to her, I have awesome photos forever. Hell yeah, I had fun!
Want to learn more about planning your own mermaid photoshoot? Hit me up with your questions in the comments, or head over to my blog to check out more photos from this shoot!