Hot! How to Photograph Tattoos/Column No. 1: Flashburn


My photo from Sideshow Alley, Portland, Oregon

There are a whole lot of words I could impart regarding my five decades of shooting, developing and printing magazine-, book- and gallery-quality photographs, but that isn’t going to make your tattoo photos a reality any faster. So, let’s get to basics, simple maneuvers that will make a significant improvement to your photos almost immediately. So, before we even talk about framing, composing, selecting appropriate subject or holding the bloody camera steady, let’s correct a mistake I saw countless times as I checked out about two hundred or so artist portfolios at through Steve Peace’s Alberta Bound Tattoo & Arts Festival in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Let’s see, I counted over one-hundred-fifty booths with at least two artists per booth. That’s a minimum of three hundred artists who showed up for this event, rented a booth, packed all their stuff into a van or an airline suitcase and walked, drove, staggered and crawled, in the hopes of selling some tattoos at this three-day event. Yes, some of the artists have national reputations, and so they probably booked their appointments before they even got through the door. They did it by reputation or the Internet. Those are the guys and gals you see tattooing pictures on people’s bodies from the starting bell to the close on Sunday night.

And why did these customers decide on a particular artist? Probably because they saw the artist’s work. They saw it on the arms and legs of their friends, celebrities on TV, in magazines or emblazoned on the skin of complete strangers passing by on the sidewalk. They booked time with this artist because of what they saw, what the viewed through their eyes. So, doesn’t it make sense that, if you don’t have anyone showing up because they’ve already seen your tattoo work and booked beforehand, you’d better prepare professional-quality photos for these potential customers walking the aisles of the convention to see, to view with their eyes. …more

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