Hot! How to Photograph Tattoos Column 5: Tricks of the Trade


Shane shooting with a “snoot”

Up to this point, all my columns have been about gear and the technical aspects of photographing tattoos. Now we are going to switch it up a bit and talk about more stylistic stuff, like backdrops and framing. Get your right brain warmed up. Now is when the fun begins. To have your photos look professional, you will need to think about a backdrop, one that will make the subject pop and not fade into the background. A wall is a good backdrop, but, as a tattoo artist (maybe with limited space), you will want to utilize something more portable. That way, you’ll have more control of your final images, whether you are photographing in your shop or at a convention. Painted, cloth backdrops have visual interest, but they are distracting (much like shooting against a crowd of people). Flat, solid-colored ones are best. While dark-colored backgrounds are best for light skin and light backdrops for dark skin, most tattoo magazine photographers use a single, relatively plain backdrop and change colors with additional lighting equipment and colored gels. No need for you to do all that. Simply use a backdrop with contrasting colors, hang it on a frame, tack to a wall or sling it over a door frame. That’s it! ...more

1 Comment

  1. BE PUNCTUAL If you have an appointment at noon, then you should be set up and ready to tattoo by 11:45 a.m. Your coffee is already finished and you’ve already made your trip to the bathroom. And, let’s face it, smoke breaks are a complete waste of everybody’s time. Sometimes, when it’s slow, I like to invite the customer to sit down and we draw out their design together. Otherwise, it is ready to view when they come in for their appointment. There is only one thing worse than having your tattoo artist show up late, unprepared and spewing excuses while he leaves again to go smoke and your appointment starts an hour after it was scheduled. The one thing that is worse is to own a shop whos eartists are constantly late. I’ve fired every single artist who pulled this trick. It shows that they have no respect for the clients, the shop, for me and no respect for themselves or tattooing.

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