“What better way to engage a child’s curiosity and inspire community support for sea life than to create truly unique underwater art?” wonders photographer Brett Stanley. So, he embarked on an ambitious project of creating a photo essay that involved World War II diving gear, a real-life mermaid, and lots of imagination. The Diver and the Mermaid project was born, a photo series commemorating the brave divers from history, but also inspiring our wonder and curiosity.
For this project, Brett teamed up with a professional mermaid and an underwater model Hannah Fraser, a commercial diver Joshua Myers, and a documentary filmmaker Justin Lutsky. They didn’t only do the underwater shoot, but also filmed a short documentary about the whole process.
Joshua says that he’s always dreamed of wearing a real World War II diving suit for a shoot. So, when the photographers contacted him for this photo essay, there was no way he was going to say no. “I felt like I had gone straight into a vintage undersea science fiction movie,” he describes the photoshoot.
He was wearing a genuine World War II-era dive suit, complete with an authentic brass helmet. This type of suit alone weighs around 19 pounds (8.5kg), so you can imagine that it was quite a challenge for a modern-day diver to wear it. Joshua and Hannah dove into the cold 60° F (15° C) water at Catalina Island to help Brett tell the story of a treasure-seeking diver who meets his fate deep below the surface!
“I looked out of the top face port of a brass-heavy gear helmet at a real-life mermaid descending into the depths,” Joshua recalls. “Beside me, my self-built treasure chest glistened and reflected light off the gold and jewels. The only sound I could hear was the air hissing into my helmet. The mermaid would swim up to me for minutes at a time as the water surged back and forth against the rocky Catalina reef, and the camera strobes would flash, capturing magic every time.”
Enjoy the whole photo essay below, and you can find more details and BTS photos on The Diver and the Mermaid website. Make sure to follow Brett on his Instagram for more of his wonderful work.
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