Amazing Tattoo Photography: A 6-Step Guide

jentheripper in Guides

Due to alternative models, charismatic tattoo artists and proud celebrities, tattoo has taken the spotlight in art and fashion photography.

For fans, it is glorious to show them on social networks and even magazines are asking for more readers pictures. But in that flood of snapshots, how can you make yours the cream of the profession? Here are some tips (and a selection of great tattoo photographies).

Fab 5 (Belgium) has got a lot of badass tattoo photographies in his portfolio.

1) No need to channel your inner Miley Cyrus First, wait for your tattoo to be fully healed. A tattoo shot with red skin is only fine in a tattooer portfolio when his or her client can’t send a clean picture afterwards. Then, if you are not into acting, prefer a simple position which would directly presents the tattoo to the lens. Less is often more when it comes to photography. Your tattoo is on the front ? Face the camera and do your best poker face.

Tattoodo
From Tattoodo App

Epic portrait of Russian alternative model Teya Salat by Daniil Kontorovich (Saint-Petersburg, Russia). The main point is her great tribal neck tattoo.

German alternative model Evilla D Ark shows her sleeve. (unknown photographer, please contact us if you know).
German alternative model Evilla D Ark shows her sleeve. (unknown photographer, please contact us if you know).

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2) Sun is your friend (and avoid steep electricity bills) Light: important in every kind of photo but especially when you want to showcase the masterpieces you’re proud to wear in your skin. Avoid the bathroom’s selfies with bad neons: daylight is the best lighting an amateur can use and will even add some mood and photojournalism credibility. Street style is trendy, go for it! If you have studio skills, you can put the spotlight on the tattoos and use smooth shadows to add some mystery.

British alternative model Ali Amour by Lel Burnett (Bristol, England). The dim studio light gives this shot a sensual mood.
British alternative model Ali Amour by Lel Burnett (Bristol, England). The dim studio light gives this shot a sensual mood.
By Charles Hamilton
By Charles Hamilton

Photographer Charles Hamilton (Glasgow, Scotland) likes to capture street life’s moments. The model looks very natural and the shot is effective.

3) Your shower curtain is not Internet’s next star Pick your background. You’re aiming for the best: go big or go home ! Ladies usually prefer to be shot in a boudoir for sexy mood but if you want to show your arty side, spot some rad place with colorful or graphic murals, graffiti, big painting etc. A tattoo shop is also a good asset but remember not to disturb the pros at work!

Tattoo photography by Andy Hartmark
Tattoo photography by Andy Hartmark

Bound by Ink Magazine photographer Andy Hartmark (Los Angeles, USA) chose to shot Finnish tattooer and model Sara Fabel in front of a great mural.

Tattoo photography featuring Ami James
Tattoo photography featuring Ami James

Tattoo artist Ami James posed for Richard Phibbs in front of a NYC view for TLC’s NY Ink promo. The Empire State’s antenna cleverly reminds of a tattoo needle.

4) Wisely choose your photographer Wide open arm, crooked face with that gimmick you can help doing in every selfie. No quite the deal, my friend, especially if your tattoos are located in uncomfortable places. Yes, you have that handy friend. But does he or she will take the shot that will lead you to the top ? Take the risk to contact young pros in your area or in internet to make sure you will be at your advantage. A good eye can make sparkles (if not miracles).

Nice black and white photo by Warwick Saint (South Africa).
Nice black and white photo by Warwick Saint (South Africa).
Dan Ostergren (USA) gave it the male ingredient with that cigarette smoke.
Dan Ostergren (USA) gave it the male ingredient with that cigarette smoke.

5) Perhaps don’t put your birthday suit on No one is against the idea to leer a little. But if you wish to stay classy (and to show the pic to grandma), select your outfit wisely. Lingerie and leather is sexy, but so does a great t-shirt and a tie. Tattoo people do look good in suits, Luke Wessman surely proved it. Don’t be afraid to play on the contrasts. But remember: tattoos improve fashion, not the contrary. Now, if you are confident enough to bare it all, you can always avoid awkward comments with some artistic tricks, such as a fully clothed person next to you (or a cute puppy, cute puppies fit everywhere).

The Jesus tee goes well with the cross tattoo. Italian model Andrea Marcaccini by David Benoliel (Miami, USA).
The Jesus tee goes well with the cross tattoo. Italian model Andrea Marcaccini by David Benoliel (Miami, USA).
Who is the hero of this shot ? The black clad lady or the nude guy ? Photo by Nico (France).
Who is the hero of this shot ? The black clad lady or the nude guy ? Photo by Nico (France).

6) Tattoos are the message If you are not narcissistic, even completely shy, or if you want to make a statement picture, you can choose anonymity by hiding your face. That will focus the viewer’s look on the tattoos, prove that you are smart and allow yourself to some eroticism (no, Grandma, it is not me, I promise).

Brian Cummings
Brian Cummings

Very sexy picture by Brian Cummings (USA) who also shot tattoo artist Corey Miller, lots of sexy tattooed girls and fun whitening strips ads with tattooed models.

(France) has made great sensual photo series Mue and Skin stories.
(France) has made great sensual photo series Mue and Skin stories.

And if none of these pieces of advice satisfy you, there is always one thing to try : humor. And cute puppies.

Tattooed egg by Elise M. Syversten.
Tattooed egg by Elise M. Syversten.
Don Mason for Corbis.
Don Mason for Corbis.

jentheripper

@JenTheRipper

Writer for art related medias. Fell in love with tattoo while researching for another passion, crime history. Travelling, admiring, sharing.

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