A very special UW shooting in Mexico
Photographing crocodiles has become popular among many underwater photographers in recent years - but taking pictures of crocodiles with models is still a quite a new combination. Underwater model Katrin Gray (33) aka "Mermaid Kat" and husband Ian Gray (48) ventured the nail-biting underwater shooting last month in Mexico.
Katrin Gray is an active Dive & Apnea Instructor & Tec diver and has been working since 2012 as a professional mermaid and underwater stunt woman. She runs her own mermaid school in Germany and Australia. For various advertising campaigns, films, music videos and commercials Katrin Gray was filmed and photographed underwater. The deepest shooting took place in April 2017 in Truk Lagoon at a depth of 140 ft. She swam with wild dolphins, whales, and was photographed for a shark campaign in Mermaid's Fins next to Tiger Sharks. But the shooting with American saltwater crocodiles was completely different, according to Gray, a breathtaking experience and incomparable with anything else she ever did before.
"Posing underwater next to a 13ft reptile was certainly one of the craziest things I've ever done," says former Miss Germany International in 2006.
Husband Ian Gray was not thrilled with the idea of his wife, but Katrin convinced him after some discussions. The photographer, whose work has already been published many times, prefers to photograph his wife as she poses underwater on shipwrecks or next to peaceful sea-dwellers. "Kat was partially only a few inches away from the crocodiles. Honestly - I had a very queasy feeling in my stomach," says Ian Gray.
A breathtaking experience
The entire expedition was a breathtaking experience. The couple spent three days in a traditional "fisherman's hut" without electricity or running water. Every day started with a dive and the rest of the day was spent in the water with the crocodiles. Three security men were involved in the action, two on the boat and one in the water.
"Without a mask, I cannot see clearly underwater, but I was close enough to the crocodiles to see their teeth," says Kat. "The most exciting moment was when I posed on the ground and the silhouette of a crocodile directly swimming above me. The next moment I felt its feet on my body, turning around and gently brushing my face with its armoured skin." Of course, such an extreme shooting should only be done with experienced underwater models which can stay calm even in such a situation. A model's panic attack could have been very dangerous here, as crocodiles react to fast and jerky movements.
Working with wild crocodiles was an unforgettable experience for the couple, even though the shooting had its own challenges. "The view in the water was unfortunately not the best and with each movement of the crocodiles, the sand was whirled up from the bottom, which was of course rather unfavourable for the shooting," says Ian Gray. Looking through the fisheye lens, the photographer found himself partially only a few inches away from the crocodile. "One day I wanted to take a step to the side, when I suddenly felt another crocodile right next to me," says Gray.
Mermaid in the cenotes
The rest of their time spent in Mexico was filled with various underwater shootings in various cenotes. The natural underwater caves created a spectacular scenery with much easier conditions than with the crocodiles. "Working in fresh water is not as aggressive for the eyes as it is in saltwater. Also hovering is easier and the visibility in the cenotes is a dream for any underwater photographer," says the couple.
Katrin and Ian Gray were so excited that they plan a special trip for models in 2019, where experienced underwater models, mermaids and newbies can be photographed underwater in the cenotes. More information will be available soon: www.mermaid-kat.de.
Those who cannot travel to Mexico and still want to transform into a mermaid, can achieve this here in Germany. In 2012 Katrin Gray opened the "Mermaid Kat Academy", a mermaid school with locations all over Germany. While Katrin Gray is swimming around in the seven seas as Mermaid Kat, her mermaid instructors regularly teach mermaid courses here in Germany. The participants do not learn to swim with crocodiles, but they learn the most important basic skills: how to safely and properly move in a mermaid fin. More information: www.meerjungfrauen-schule.de