I met Dana through a friend of mine, Meghan, who is also a photographer. I was immediately drawn to her, as she is the most fun-loving woman & has a stunning talent. Dana takes mermaid photos, & they literally take your breath away. She helps keep you relaxed during her shoots, & produces images that are completely magical. I am super excited to share some of this magic with each of you, & I know that you will fall as in love with them as I am!
“Mermaid: A sea woman who chooses Imagination over Fear” – Unknown
Your name: Dana Cato
Business name: FireFlight Photography
Tell me a bit more about your genre of photography: My main focus is portraits – but with some fantasy flair added in. I do underwater portraits for everyone, for those who just want the experience, for mums-to-be who want some unusual and creative maternity portraits etc. My mermaid portraits are for those who love the magical & mythical things in life – and I do portraits underwater or on land, so I can cater to those who can or can’t swim but still dream of being a mermaid! I focus on bringing out one’s natural beauty under the water while still having a bit of fun too.
Have you always been a water baby: Oh gosh, yes! My parents had me playing in the pool from when I was a few months old, and I think it stuck! I would play in the pool for hours, or around the pool if I couldn’t swim. I’d even take multiple baths in a day if I could get away with it! Water is my happy place, it’s where I instantly feel comfortable and relaxed. And to use this as my ‘studio’ has made me love my job even more!
Why mermaids: Well, as a little redheaded kid born in the 90’s, I could not get away from The Little Mermaid. Combined with my love of swimming and water, mermaids pretty much took over my childhood! Then a few years ago, I came across two things that sealed my mermaid fate: I saw Ilse Moore photographing Mermaid Thalia at a Photo & Film Expo, and was immediately amazed and needed to try this! Secondly I discovered mermaid tails were actually easily available to buy, so I saved up, bought one, and did mermaid shoots! I feel mermaids tap into a childlike wonder subconscious we all have, but as adults we don’t often recognise due to the real world’s seriousness and all the difficult things our world is going through. Being able to offer an experience where people can be a mermaid, feel like a kid again and get pictures is my way of trying to make our world a slightly happier place!
Where can people get a photoshoot with you: You can contact me on my Facebook, Instagram, website or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have access to two pools in Joburg – one in Northcliff and one in Lanseria, so I can shoot almost year round!
What are your package prices: Underwater portrait sessions are R3 500; Underwater Mermaid Portraits are R4 000 and On Land Mermaid Portraits are R3 000. All my packages include makeup from an incredible makeup artist that is waterproof and makes you extra glamorous. I also then edit each of the 20 final images so each one is absolutely perfect, and they are delivered to you on a wooden USB drive that is engraved with your name.
Who do you think would enjoy these photoshoots: Anyone who loves water, mermaids, unusual experiences or images with a unique artistic quality to them. I’ve had someone give an underwater shoot as a gift, as a wedding anniversary experience (trash the dress shoots are such fun) and I’ve had lots of ladies do these for maternity portraits. If you are comfortable in the water, you can do one of these shoots. Only my underwater mermaid portraits require strong swimming skills. And of course, if water isn’t your thing, you can be a mermaid on land.
Why do you encourage women to try these type of photoshoots: I think these shoots are a fantastic way of trying something that you won’t find anywhere else. Photoshoots on land are easily accomplished, but an underwater portrait shoot is an experience you’ll never forget. If you love to live your childhood dreams, then a mermaid shoot is so much fun. It’s magical, a whole lot of fun and you’ll have images as a reminder of that for years to come.
Have you always had a passion for photography, & how did you get into it: I only developed my photographic skills when I was about 18, when I saw a friend of mine taking photos and how beautiful they looked. I tried and failed miserably when my images looked nothing like his, and gave up! Then in university, we learned photography as a subject, and suddenly the bug bit me properly. I was introduced to wedding photography and did that for 7 years with my boyfriend as my second shooter. Then I discovered underwater portraits, and the rest they say is history!
Quote you live by: Two sayings that I live by that keep me sane: “Comparison is the thief of joy” – be yourself, do your thing, grow your skills and never compare yourself to others. And secondly, “Don’t let your worries about tomorrow steal your joys from today.” As someone who has anxiety and stresses to the max for no reason, I’ve let this help me whenever I worry too much. Do what you can, don’t worry about what you can’t control, and things will work out the way they are meant to.
Anything else you want to add:
I’m not only limited to Joburg and will happily photograph anywhere else in SA! Beaches are the perfect place for a mermaid, so hit me up if you’d like me to shoot in another city and we can make a plan.
Isn’t Dana absolutely amazing? And doesn’t it make you want to jump in a pool with her to get some of these gorgeous photographs done for yourself? I have already sent her a message requesting we set up a date for my mermaid shoot so I can’t wait to share these with you…