You could call Chris Crumley the “mermaid whisperer”. After all, he spends hundreds of hours each year taking photos of these mythical creatures, bringing them to life in a unique and striking way.
According to Crumley, a well-traveled and published professional underwater photographer, there is a growing trend in the publishing world for images of mermaids. The demand for quality images comes from book publishers, magazines, websites and a variety of other publishing companies. In addition, the revived interest in all things “mermaid” has spawned a small (but growing) group of mermaid enthusiasts who have their own conventions, events and community.
Crumley, who has shot thousands of photographs of various “mermaids” over the years, has become a hero and celebrity within the community. His mermaid images (10,000+ on file), techniques and ability to coach up and coming “mermaids” make him THE source for underwater mermaid photography.
“It’s not as simple as just putting on a tail and getting in the water,” Crumley points out. “It takes practice, coaching and more practice.” Some of Crumley’s more publicized and popular mermaid models, including Malena Sharkey, Iara Mandyn, Chelsea McLean and Kristi Sherk, have spent years perfecting their craft.
Crumley listed off several key skills that “mermaids” must master in order to look good for the camera. “You have to be able to hold your breath for at least one minute, preferably longer. That allows us to get in place, the model to relax and look natural underwater.”
Since it’s not a natural skill to look at ease underwater without air, Crumley tends to take it slow when training a new mermaid model. “People don’t realize how difficult it is. These models have to open their eyes, relax their face and look like they are enjoying themselves. That’s a tall order.”
But once they’ve mastered that skill, the sky (or the ocean floor) is the limit. Last year, Crumley conducted mermaid shoots in a variety of locations, which include Palau, Florida Keys, Florida Springs and Mexico. But many of the shoots are also done in Crumley’s home base in Virginia where he has more control of light and the elements.
And what exactly makes a “perfect” mermaid photo? Crumley says “First and foremost is a tail with the right look. I prefer the designs of Eric Ducharme, a well-known creator of mermaid tails. Then, there are about 50 other things. When I do coaching sessions, I get the model to work on 6-8 things at a time until they feel natural, then go for another group until they feel good, then move on until we can start getting quality photos.”
That certainly sounds like something a “mermaid whisperer” would say. Crumley said plans are being made for additional shoots and events for later in 2013, so stay tuned.