When The Sun Is Down I Feel Alive
You would think by now that whenever I send a link to something to Mermaid Child it could possibly turn into a project.
OK, this will be a tad bit meandering… but it will make sense once you put it all together.
A while back I somehow ran into this brand new company called Pom Pom Floats. And their first product was an inflatable float. In the shape of a coffin. That was pink.
I was greatly amused by the idea, especially since at the time we were bouncing around what we could do for summer projects. So I shared that link in our team chat.
Mermaid Child was all I WANT TO DO SOMETHING WITH THAT.
For Mermaid Child to take that item and just start putting together something goth inspired with outfits, jewelry, wigs, makeup ideas, etc.,... I was quite surprised. Like literally after I shared that link we spent the next few hours discussing ideas. She just took things and went off running. I’m really proud of her for just taking something like that and just fucking going for it.
Now we’ve talked about some goth themed ideas before though we hadn’t done anything in that vein yet. For myself I’ve always liked the goth aesthetic even if I myself may not dress that way (I think I’ll always be late 90’s hacker with print t-shirts and cargo pants). Some of my favorite shows are The Addams Family and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. One of my favorite bands is Type O Negative. And honestly when I’ve encountered goths at shows or whatever they tend to be genuinely fun and interesting people to hang around. So while I’m not deep into the scene I get it.
But when I looked back at all the work we had done previously this presentation of her didn’t fit with anything we had shot of her before. For her to go this direction here was a bit jarring.
So I asked her why.
It Means A Lot
Note: this was written by Mermaid Child
There is always something you never know about a person till one day it spills out in front of you. I believe you should never judge a person by their exterior or the face they may display. I did this photoshoot to express me as a person and the things I have struggled with for a long time. I have always had anxiety issues, but about four years ago I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. People have often looked at me and said you have no reason to be sad, you’re young, healthy and pretty. It is often hard to believe what you do not feel, there are always going to be good and bad days, but it’s being able to pick yourself up even when all you want to do is break down.
Back in 2015 I started to get more into my own fashion style and makeup, much of it was darker colors and leaned a little goth. I love gothic fashion, it is a way to express myself and feel good about who I am as a person. I struggle with expressing these things to people or even tell people what goes on in my mind half the time. I usually always say thank you to the compliments but I never really believed them.
I feel I am an average person, nothing more or less. Goth fashion makes me feel like I am fully showing who I am, a little dark with hints of glitter, and wish to be taller than I really am. I have never felt I should leave this world, I do love myself enough to know I will continue to struggle with my inner demons and not let them control my life forever or let them kill my potential.
I often come off with a very hard exterior, partially due to being bullied in middle school, a very terrible long relationship, and then having to deal with becoming an adult and figuring out what I am supposed to do with my life. I do believe I have purpose whether it is to make people laugh, save all the animals in the world, or just continue to try and make life a little more awesome. Life is not an easy road and I know one day I will be done with college and on my own, but for now all I can do it continue to express myself in my artform of choice, being cosplay and fashion.
Since this was going to involve swimsuits we decided to shoot at a place we have before: the pool that's where Mermaid Child and Tacocat live. What would be interesting was that we would be shooting this at night. So I had to figure out lighting and what I may have to do to mitigate for background elements like light reflection off of the water and lights from the houses behind the pool.
Thankfully a lot of that ended up being easier to deal with that I thought. We did some test shots the weekend before this set to determine how we’d need to prepare since we were shooting in a pool at night. My main concern was how the strobes could potentially reflect off of the water and maybe give us reflections we didn’t want.
With strobes being less powerful than the Sun it turns out this really wasn’t a problem. I thought I’d need a circular polarizer filter to solve for any reflection problems. But here that wasn’t the case. So that was one less thing to worry about.
Plus the house lights behind the pool were a lot further back than I had realized. So with the low ISO and aperture I wanted to shoot at they would not interfere.
One piece I wanted to attempt was to use the rest of the pool to get some background separation by pointing some strobes near the water’s surface. In our testing we got some decent results by just setting Godox AD200’s on pool chairs. So I thought I could use the Yongnuo flashes I had to serve this purpose.
One final bit we acquired to really try to make this set our own: a ground fog machine. We used one Allybelle’s step-dad had for Halloween set ups during our Halloween Love Live and Super Crown shoots so we thought it would be perfect for this, especially with using dry ice instead of normal ice. We just needed to get a really long extension cord since the only available power source was in the bathrooms.
With us shooting at a pool in a master plan developed neighborhood with a Homeowner’s Association board that likes to bitch about the smallest things we knew we had to take some things into consideration here. Especially since we were going to be shooting late at night, On a Sunday.
But since we were reasonable about noise level and noticing that none of the signage around the place mentioned anything about hours that gave us space to kinda not give a fuck.
Part of the reason I wanted to utilize a ground fog machine for this was I wasn’t sure how the HOA would feel about us just throwing pieces of dry ice all over the pool. The weather report at the time said winds would be light and variable so we thought it could be used.
That was not the case. Even after moving the machine to various spots it just wouldn’t work for what we wanted to do.
So we went ahead with our shoot… and at some point we were just like “Shit… let’s throw some dry ice chunks in the pool and see what happens.”
And that actually worked better than the fog machine would have.
Too bad I didn’t have more of it for this set.
As for utilizing strobes to light the water in the background to give some background separation… it didn’t quite work the same as it did in our tests. Though at the moment I’m not quite sure why. That’s another area of research we’ll have to add to the list. Good thing we like learning bits to make our work better.
This was a very interesting project to work through for a number of reasons. For one we hadn’t put together a night shoot for well over a year. Secondly we had to think through how to tackle doing a night shoot at a pool.
But most importantly was understanding how important this was to Mermaid Child. For her to grab onto all of this and just go BOOM… I just stepped back and offered commentary where needed. One of the things I appreciate about her is that I can bring an idea to her and she just kinda gets it without me needing to overly explain it. So to not offer her the same latitude as a human and an artist with something that was so personal would be wrong on so many levels.
Otherwise she would not fully be herself here.
And if there’s anything that’s most important to us at Make Them Awesome… we want all of us to be ourselves.