Five Days, Five Mermaids – The Making of the Catrina Sirena

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  • Divers descending to a wreck - Behind the scenes mermaid fashion underwater photoshoot
  • Underwater photograph of Sol Tamargo diving on a shipwreck with Gates housing
  • Safety divers and mermaid model for underwater photoshoot
  • Behind the scenes backstage high concept art mermaid fashion underwater photoshoot
  • Solo Buceo diving boat with mermaid model Cancun, Mexico
  • Solo Buceo dive boat captain giving thumbs up
  • Behind the scenes underwater fine art mermaid fashion photoshoot shipwreck
  • backstage from underwater fine art mermaid shipwreck photoshoot
  • Safety divers behind the scenes underwater fine art mermaid fashion photoshoot shipwreck
  • backstage underwater mermaid fashion photoshoot
  • Behind the scenes underwater fine art mermaid cenote photoshoot
  • Behind the scenes Cancun underwater mermaid photoshoot
  • Safety divers inside a shipwreck with mermaid model on underwater fashion shoot
  • backstage from Cancun underwater fine art mermaid fashion photoshoot
  • backstage underwater fashion photoshoot La Calavera Catrina
  • Behind the scenes and backstage from Cancun underwater photoshoot with Solo Buceo
  • Behind the scenes Cancun underwater mermaid photoshoot
  • backstage high mermaid shipwreck underwater shoot
  • fish shipwreck backstage
  • backstage from Cancun underwater photoshoot with Solo Buceo

Photographs and words: Sol Tamargo
Video: Marco

Be sure to check out the full photoshoot

Growing up in the ocean, mermaids have been always my favorite. I used to draw them all the time and now I can take pictures of them!

Since I was a little girl I LOVE fairy tales. My imagination runs wild and free and I love, love writing stories. When I became a photographer I discovered a whole new world of possibilities available to create whatever I imagined.

I am very proud of my Mexican heritage, I love Mexico, a country full of color and tradition; legends and fairytales are part of everyday life. Mexicans take death with a grain of salt, we laugh in the face of death, celebrate the passing.  In some small towns on the Day of the Dead they still visit old grave yards, dust off the bones of lost ones, and are up all night with offerings and family gatherings worshiping the life of the dead. “La Catrina”, an elegantly dressed skeleton woman, is a symbol of the Día de muertos

“La Catrina Sirena” was born combining these two loves: the ocean and Mexico. For me she represents “Eternal Life” and in this particular case, art that will still be here when I am gone.” 

I clearly envisioned what I wanted but I didn’t realize how challenging it would be to make it real.

I am used to shooting in the cenotes and free diving, so I can go to the surface, speak to my “models” and assistants and tell them what to do: please light here, fix the dress… Diving 25m / 75ft deep the story changes! It becomes a challenge, but at the same time very rewarding to come back with an image that you know is amazing!

On the shipwreck I was ambitious and wanted to shoot in three different places in one dive – hehe -how naive! Lesson learned: go down and make one location, that’s it.

Everything moves with the current, I couldn’t really have light were I wanted, the hair piece wouldn’t stay where it supposed to… fish! stay there!… People! stop making dust!.. mermaid!.. please look this way. Air in the tanks, PLEASE last longer… OMG….!

The second day we went to the shipwreck weather conditions were not optimal: it rained, waves were big, moving boat, I was feeling sick, but there was no way to turn around. This day we were lucky to have Frida Lemus, national freediver champion, she was amazing! The challenge here was that I chose to shoot inside a tiny room in the wreck, having all the necessary people there made it difficult as we messed with the sediment and we were all crowded, however, we got the image I wanted :)

The weather got better and I wanted to go back to the shipwreck for another image, I wanted La Catrina Mermaid to be outside the boat, floating, like she was guarding it. My friend Iris, cancer survivor and free diver accepted the challenge.  The day was perfect and we came back with the image I wanted – YEAY!

I also wanted to shoot at cenotes, so one day when the port was closed for going to the ocean, we headed under the rain to the first cenote.

Arriving at the cenote my lead diver from Solo Buceo and I made a check dive to decide where to place the mermaid. We dove in, for the first two meters we couldn’t see anything, the water was dark and filled with sediment but as we continued down the water cleared and my heart stopped for a minute… OMG! Like a Tim Burton movie set… Incredible! Days of rain from a tropical depression had turned the water yellow, orange, red colors, perfect for this Catrina Mermaid.

 This is an “On going” Project, we will continue seeking for amazing locations and expect to see more of “La Catrina Sirena” 


  • 3 days of shooting
  • 3 “models” Divers and freedivers
  • Solo Buceo Crew:
  • 1 support diver for the model
  • 1 light assistant for Sol
  • 1 support diver for Sol
  • From del Sol team: 1 extra diver for support, safety and backstage video
  • Shot in Cancun, shipwreck at 25m / 80ft depth
  • Shot with Canon Mark III, and 24 mm lens
  • Nauticam Housings


  • 2 days of shooting
  • 2 cenotes
  • 3 models
  • Solo Buceo Crew:
  • 1 Support diver for the model
  • Divemaster
  • From del Sol team: 1 diver to assist with light
  • Shot in Riviera Maya Cenotes

My deepest Thank YOU for ALL involved in making this idea came to life.

Polly: del Sol Production Supervisor, photographer, fashion designer, diver AND mermaid… She pushed me to make this happen and build the incredible mermaid tail for LA CATRINA and was the first model in the shipwreck
Solo Buceo Crew: I couldn’t do it without them: first following me in this crazy idea, arranging all the logistics and with the best spirit to help me making it happen.
Marco  studio director of del Sol and experienced diving Instructor – prepared all my gear and was there to make sure Polly was safe, helped me with light and made backstage video.
Claudia Bo from Claudia Bo Designs, creating the corsets that compliment the mermaid tail so perfectly!
Luna who gave me light.
Monica Riquelme for Polly’s makeup.

“The Incredible Mermaid Women who trusted us with their lives”

Frida Lemus – National Freediving Champion
Adriana Chardi – Sol’s best friend, we discovered she’s a natural mermaid too!
Paulina AraujoFashion designer and model
Iris Vasconez – Super Woman, Cancer Survivor, Freediver 

GRACIAS A TODOS!!!! – SOL (The unstoppable dreamer)

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