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Photography Transcendence

About this work

A Chinese legend tells how koi fish came to symbolise strength, perseverance and destiny fulfilled: after swimming against the current up the Yellow River, a school of koi came to a waterfall. They tried to reach the top of the waterfall, to no avail. After hundreds of years jumping, one koi reached the top and the gods rewarded its determination by turning it into a golden dragon, the image of power and strength.

This legend of fighting, determination and transformation appealed to me, as did the sheer beauty of the fish - which I tried to replicate by turning a woman into a koi.

The fish arrived for the shoot in special packaging of plastic bags filled with water and oxygen. It is imperative not to shock them. When we finally released them into our pool, I spent the morning taking hundreds of photos of the fish, trying to capture their natural swimming habits.

It required an elaborate make-up process to transform our model into a koi, wrapping our beauty in fishnet to recreate the scales.

All this led up to the moment of truth -- immersion. We didn’t have much time to get it right. Like the koi itself, this was a big investment and lottery. You do not know what color young koi will turn out to be, so it is a matter of chance if they fulfill their promise of beauty.

  • Art-Direction/Photography: Jonas Leriche
  • Make-up: Caroline Quirynen
  • Model: Naomi Lynch
  • Behind The Scenes Photography: Ilse de Smedt