Lady Of The Lake

In this digital age, with the ubiquitous use of Photoshop, most people take a look at an image which appears to show something unusual and assume it exhibits some sort of trickery. There was a time when retouching and ‘comping’ of an image was an expensive option which only a few highly-skilled specialists could undertake. Advertising photographers with clients with limited budgets were expected to solve problems in practical ways.

In the late 90’s, when briefed to create an image of the legendary ‘Lady of the Lake’ scene, where King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur is held aloft in the ‘Lady’s’ hand, my thoughts were not how we could combine component parts, but how could we make it happen for real?

The main challenges were to find a suitable location, to create the right atmosphere, and the greatest challenge: how to present the female arm holding the sword out of the water.

The location was found: Roman Lakes near Marple, Cheshire. The sword came from a theatrical prop hire company. The atmosphere needed to be misty and a smoke machine and a power generator to run it would take care of that. On a calm day, if the positioning was right, a gentle breeze would waft the mist across the water.

Our ‘lady’s arm belonged to a diving instructor who cut back her wet suit sleeve.

The final image was exactly as seen by the camera at the time.

Given the same brief today, I would probably cheat and not expect anyone to get wet. It wouldn’t produce the same level of satisfaction, or be as much fun, though.

My client was Art Director Chris Duncan, then of McCann Erickson, now Littlefinger. The campaign was ‘Proven, Not Proven’ for Zocor, a drug manufactured by MSD.

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