The Blue Mermaid 威尼斯の人魚傳說
Updated: Aug 27
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A City by the Sea like Venice can’t help but have mermaid legends. The Blue Mermaid by Comtessenathalie Desmons - a magnificent fine art costume of unrivalled beauty. This is one of the most iconic costumes in the history of the Venice Carnevale. The costume debut was in 2012, way before I arrived at the Venice Carnevale in 2014. Usually, costumers use the costume for just 1 year at the Carnevale, and then retired them, bringing out new costumes every year. I requested my friend Nathalie to bring this costume back for me and this picture was done at this year's Carnevale. When a photographer requests something extra-ordinary from a model, he'd better have a damn good idea of what he's gonna achieve - this was what I have been telling myself all this while.
Venice can get extremely crowded during Carnevale, and this is one costume that makes walking extremely difficult. Having the feet within the tail just makes the costumer walk like an actual fish out of water, so I had to keep this in mind when photographing the Blue Mermaid. I shot this at the entrance of a tunnel early one morning, using just natural light alone. I then added in the blue glow on photoshop to represent the light of the moon and the coloured orbs to give it that under water fantasy look. Mermaids are elusive creatures. When they are seen, it is usually lighted by the orb of the night (moon) - something which the merfolks hold sacred or during the hours of dawn and dusk. These are magical times – when sight and perception becomes blurred within the mellow lights of dusk and dawn. In photography, we call this the Blue Hour (from French l'heure bleue) - the period of twilight in the morning or evening, during the civil and nautical stages, when the Sun is at a significant depth below the horizon and residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue shade. This is symbolic of the ideal opportunity to create fantasy in our dreams – by relaxing our vision and letting go of our senses a bit – we come up to show ourselves drenched in the glow of a truly magical scene.
The inspiration for this comes from those 1970s and 80s Bronze Age Marvel and DC Comic books. Mermaids are matrons of enchantment, beseeching sailor boys with their beauty, grace and spellbinding songs of the seas. I wanted that Ken Kelly oil painting feel of comic cards from that era with the female characters from the Namor and Aquaman series in mind, but of course with a Venetian twist to it.
The photo shoot was not an easy one, at least not emotionally. Nathalie is still recovering from her injuries and so her daughter Emeline would put on the costume this year. A family tragedy had occurred a few hours before the photo shoot and the model need to return to France, but being ever so professional, she wanted to continue with the photo shoot before leaving Venice just a few hours later. As with all Venetian Mask photos, she communicated with just her eyes - yes, so the tinge of sadness and the Mermaid's tears are all real. I held my breath and pressed the shutter. In that moment of truth, I was reminded that I need to be proud of my photographic creations..I had given them, and myself, something that would last a lifetime ...In Venice, we cherish every moment...