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How to Photograph Tattoos for Your Portfolio

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Photo I took at Hot Rod Bettie’s, Salem, Oregon, for our forthcoming book “Tattoo Road Trip—The Best of Oregon”


I always make it a point to check out tattoo portfolios at the tattoo events I visit. The last books that I checked were at Steve Peace’s Tattoo & Arts Expo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. There were more than 150 tattoo booths, each with at least two artists. Double-booths had twice that number. Each artist, for the most part, had a book, a portfolio, representing their tattoo work. This is what the people walking by the booth look at to see an artist’s skills and determine if this is the man or woman they want to hire to do their tattoo. While the overall work at the show was excellent, the tattoo books were, for the most part, terrible. The photos were flash-burned, out-of-focus, too light, too dark, badly framed or heaven knows what. In other words, the photos made the artists look like amateurs. The tattoos were bright and clean, but the photos were not. To be honest, there were only two booths that featured sharp, appealing, professional-looking photos. All the others were inferior.

So, the question is: Are you artists out there interested in an ongoing “How to Photograph Tattoos” column that helps you fill your portfolio with photographs that show off your tattoos the way you want them represented? Most every artist I talked to in Calgary realized that their photo-taking skills were nothing to crow about. Several apologized but didn’t know what to do about it. When I suggested a column to help them get better, they all reacted with a “yes.” What do you think?

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Written by Baxter

December 26th, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Helpful Stuff

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