The Photographic Journal

Siren Suspended

Essay 539 • Nov 20th 2023

Back in January, Mary and I were on a shoot together for a local immersive art museum, where she mentioned to me that she's always wanted to do a photoshoot using a large aquarium tank. I immediately went to my phone's notes app, and showed her a terrible drawing I had made years prior, depicting a person floating in a huge tank in the middle of a tree-lined path. Right then, we agreed to manifest this shoot, somehow. Well, Mary made it happen.

Fast forward 9 months, and Mary had found the perfect tank for us on Facebook Marketplace. We had a team assembled and started brainstorming while meditating on the visual of a land-locked mermaid. A transition into becoming a mermaid. And because of the brilliant creativity of Erica, we had a mermaid tail and more. While Christopher made sure to keep the water warm, Mary transformed. And it was beautiful to witness. Thank you to this amazing team for bringing this vision to life!


Kate Sweeney is a self-taught photographer from Columbus, Ohio whose work has been featured in Billboard, Glamour Magazine, Teen Vogue and numerous others, and recently completed a 3-year-long residency with The Photographic Journal. She aims to make work challenging ideas of femininity with an honesty that is simultaneously defiant and inviting. She does this by utilizing the human form, color, and our connection to nature. She is obsessed with memories and takes an empathetic approach to her portraits, interested in exploring themes of memory, identity, and freedom.
Website | Instagram

Model/Producer: Mary Sundermeier
HMUA/Designer: Erica Stewart
Photo Assist: Seth Moses Miller
Props: Christopher Yager

Check out all of Kate’s TPJ photo essays:

Kate Sweeney x Lomography

Alayna at the Farm

Frances in the Field

Pink Ladies



A Sunday in Ridgewood

Kate x Vans Vision Walk

A Butterfly Underwater

A Night in Nashville





A Day at the Inn

In This Place

Kelsey x The Impossible Project

Butch & Femme

Color Therapy

24 Hours in Catalina, Part Two

24 Hours in Catalina, Part One





Kelsey x The Impossible Project

We Took the Cake