Do you remember the first time you saw a tattoo, and what your reaction was?
At first I was prejudiced against tattoos because I was raised in an old fashioned way. Tattoos were something that my family frowned upon. A lot of elders in my family still don't openly accept them or understand why the younger generation are getting them.
Do you have any tattoos yourself?
Yes! Primarily all on my left arm... My first tattoo was an owl behind my neck.
As a photographer, do you approach shooting a model with body art any differently than a model without tattoos?
Not really! I enjoy photographing all kinds of people, with or without tattoos.
Any tips for other photographers, for working with models who have tattoos?
This one is tough! I think everyone photographs tattooed people in their own artistic vision so there's no wrong or right way to do it.
Are tattoos and body modifications a problem in other work that you do? Do you ever have to shoot around tattoos or use cover-up make-up? Do you ever Photo Shop out tattoos?
I've edited out tattoos if they were distracting to the photo, or they were in the process of being laser removed. Sometimes the tattoos help bring out the concept of the picture, it just depends.
What is it about a particular tattoo or an individual with tattoos that you find interesting? Have you ever seen a tattoo, or a person with tattoos and said, "I have to shoot that!"?
I love shooting people who are practically completely covered. It's intriguing, much like a story book. There are people I've shot that every time I see them, I notice something there that I never noticed before, but was already there since I met them.
As a photographer and visual artist, what defines a good tattoo in your eyes? What design and aesthetic qualities are you looking for?
It all depends on the artist and style preference you have. But aesthetically, great line work is a must.
What would be your advice to someone who wants a great photo that shows their body art to its best advantage?
The best option would be to hire an experienced photographer with a great portfolio and let him/her know what you would like to see in the photograph.
What is the biggest difference between shooting editorial work - say for someone like Bob Baxter at Skin & Ink - and working in a studio?
Usually magazine editors prefer to have photos of the actual tattoos as well as a few portraits of the person. Outside of that, if we're speaking in terms of a personal project, I'd shoot things a tattoo magazine probably wouldn't be interested in. But I surprised myself because tattoo magazines have expressed an attraction to that kind of work lately.
What do you think of the growing numbers of celebrities and models who have tattoos?
It's a great thing that the tattoo culture is growing in this sense, but it's also bad because there are a lot of girls who think that if they get tattoos they will be more accepted as a "pin-up model." I've seen girls that in a matter of a year, they've become completely covered in tattoos. Certainly 80% of those tattoos are probably meaningless. But that is only my opinion because it takes me a good amount of time to know what I want and where I want it.
What tips would you give to the home photographer, tattoo enthusiast or tattoo artist who wants to take a great photograph of a tattoo?
Good lighting! We want to be able to see all your work.
What would be your dream tattoo photography assignment?
My dream tattoo photography assignment(s) would be to often shoot public figures who have them!
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