Amphitrite Photoshoot

To develop my work, I am writing and sharing Gibbs Reflective Cycles of my studies in photography. Below is a Gibbs reflective cycle of my experience photographing a themed maternity session based on the Greek Goddess Amphitrite: the Goddess of the Sea.






I wanted to produce a photo that represented the Greek Goddess Amphitrite, goddess of the sea when pregnant, as part of my creative maternity series as part of my Guild of Photographers panel of 21 images.

 I decided that I would use a larger model for this session as I wanted to turn her into a mermaid in edit. The model I chose was 38 weeks pregnant and plus sized.

She was quite difficult to pose as she hadn't done any modelling before and was very uncomfortable, being so heavily pregnant. 

I showed the model examples of what I was trying to achieve, and explained about hand positioning, in line with the guild of photographers hand posing rules-no backs of hands to be seen, and no palm of hands, preferably with the little fingers closest to the camera to make the hands appear smaller. This seemed to confuse the model, but we did end up getting a shot that worked.

In the editing process I quickly realised that this image was going to take up a lot of space, and therefore take a lot of time to process. I used several different images to create the final piece as follows: 

1. A photo of the model 

2. A photo of a turtle I had taken underwater in Crete (on a submarine) 

3. A photo of the models hair 

4. A photo of an underwater scene I took in Crete (on a submarine) 

5. A photo of a fish, which has a fan tail 

6. Photos of fish taken in Crete again on a submarine 

I also didn't have a trident, so I drew one in photoshop, then added a texture to it to make it look old, and shaded it to match the lighting using white and black at low opacities on a 50% grey layer.

I made a bubble brush in photoshop, and set it to multiple random arrangements so it looks more realistic to add to the scenery. 

There are several dodge and burn layers used on a 50% grey layer on soft light. 

There is a created light stream from a warm light colour painted on using screen. 

There is a shade layer used to build scenery and shade to blend in the subject to the background

The subjects were cut out using masking, and I further blended the edges using a Deardorff smoothing brush with the smudge tool at 25% opacity. 

There are several blue-green layers painted to highlight behind and in front of the mermaid. 

There is a layer of a photo rough waters taken in Crete, placed behind the turtle and mermaid to add in the texture of moving water. 

Skin smoothing and makeup on the model was done using a portrait pro plugin. 

The models body shape has been altered using the liquify tool, to pull in her back and pull out her bump and alter the texture and appearance of her hair. 

Grading was done to the image using low opacity levels, colour gradients and a mid opacity black and white layer. 

There is a final texture layer of a marble floor added at low opacity on a screen layer to nod to a painterly fine art effect. 


Even though I am happy with the final image, I found it very stressful to edit such a large file size- as my computer kept crashing and being very slow. The image in total took around 40 hours to create. This is much longer than I anticipated for one image, which has really stressed me out thinking that I have 21 of these to produce! 


What was good: 

I produced a piece of work I am really happy with. The shoot went as planned, even though the model was not experienced I felt I got what I needed to have a base image to work with. 

I worked well around lack of props by using my artistic skills to draw one so it looked realistic enough to pass as being there. 

The image as a whole looks as it should do, and most people would not be able to tell that It is actually several composites. 

The image is a good talking point and opportunity to sell some of my normal work, and meets criteria to enter into competitions, hopefully raising my profile.

I enjoyed creating the work and seeing my vision come together.

What was bad:

It took far too long to realistically produce for clients-unless they are paying for a week of my time. Realistically, an image like this would cost a minimum of £400 to produce just one, which would only just cover my time working on it!

The RAM on my iMac struggled to keep up with the massive task at hand, and I was very worried that it could possibly destroy my computer.

I could have shot things with more organisation and planning, to make sure it didn’t give me as much work to do in the editing room- such as the hair. 


I may have to face the reality that creating 21 images for the deadline is too big of a task to complete, however I would be happier spending more time on this project to ensure that the images are correct to submit for a craftsman panel instead of qualification panel as this was suggested by my mentor at the Guild of Photographers. 

Action Plan:

  1. Review the images left to edit and organise an estimate of how long they will take to produce. 

  2. Look into getting the RAM upgraded on the iMac to see if it speeds up the process of editing. 

  3. Draw up a plan to organise the final photographs to submit as a panel-whether complete or otherwise continue through the final major project.