Despite the talk of contrasts between the hipster weekenders and the ornery locals, there’s a new breed of Montauk creatives that has found the perfect middle ground. Talented photographer and Montauk local James Katsipis represents the new generation of talent. James is part of a new breed of Montaukians who are reinventing the myth of what the place represents, while remaining very true to their roots and values.

In his series titled “Montauk Mermaids” James shares with Imagista an incredibly sensual and raw series of images that represents Montauk’s new wave. These artists, musicians, photographers and surfers cannot be ignored, and Imagista is here to help bring their creativity to the world. Just don’t plan on dropping in on any of them at Ditch this summer…

The ever good-natured Katsipis offered insights on his life as a photographer and into this unique series of images.

Imagista: What was the initial inspiration behind this project or body of work? 

James Katsipis: My inspiration for this project is all the women I grew up with. The girls in Montauk are true watermen (women)—they don’t just sit on the beach and tan when the waves are firing. They are out there surfing with us.

Imagista: What do you love about this project?

JK: I love how it really explores a different side of the girls. A lot of the girls have never modeled before and they start off really timid. We talk, swim, and laugh, and the shyness goes right out the window. They leave the shoot feeling really confident and sexy.

Imagista: How did it get started? 

JK: I did a shoot with Amanda Beckwith. We did this in-water shoot under a favorite dock of mine in Montauk. I sat on the images for about a year, dreaming up more ideas. One image in particular kept catching my attention and one day Mermaids of Montauk just clicked in my head. I wanted to try to take the images further and be more exaggerated. When I get passionate about a project there is no rest for the weary. Its been full steam ahead the whole time.

Imagista: For how long, or over what time period, did this project go on?

JK: The project is fairly new and has taken off like a rocket. The amount of positive feedback and enquires are incredible. I get at least 10 emails a day from girls asking to be mermaids. I’m booked solid with a new mermaid everyday. I love it.

Imagista: Who are the key players involved?

JK: Well the key players would be me and my intern Carl Heath, who has been just amazing and so helpful to work with. We throw ideas around all day and he’s just as excited as I am about the series.

Imagista: Are there any other additional plans with this project?

JK: I’m thinking long term and bigger. I have a few great ideas going but I don’t want to reveal anything just quite yet.

Imagista: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about this project?

JK: I just want to share how grateful I am to all the girls for trusting my vision and being so supportive, enthusiastic and putting up with my crazy demands and the cold water! Montauk is not tropical. Haha!


Photographer: James Katsipis
Model: Ariel Engstrom
Model: Samantha Duane
Model: Kim Valverde

Model: Juleah Heath
Model: Alicia Kelley
Model: Amanda Beckwith