What Sets Tattoo Photographer Dina Litovsky Apart From The Rest

Xavier in Stories

We caught up with tattoo photographer Dina Litovsky to find out what's behind her thought-provoking tattoo photography.

TATTOO PHOTOGRAPHER DINA LITOVSKY
TATTOO PHOTOGRAPHER DINA LITOVSKY

When you think of tattoo photography, images of a least two people sat on leather, ergonomic chairs, caught up in a seemingly serene scene of the almost spiritual tattoo process where the two engage into that very intimate moment to create something beautiful.

UNDER THE NEEDLE, DINA LITOVSKY
UNDER THE NEEDLE, DINA LITOVSKY

The beauty is there, you know what's going on, but it rarely captures how it actually is. Because from the receiving end, it's a very different scene.

UNDER THE NEEDLE, DINA LITOVSKY
UNDER THE NEEDLE, DINA LITOVSKY

‘Under the Ink’ is a personal series Litovsky started working on this summer.

“I tend to question traditional portraiture because it is often a portrait of the subject’s reaction to the photographer, whether it’s the photographer’s demeanor or simple instructions. I have been interested in seeing how I can make portraiture where there is minimum influence of the photographer, to have a visual representation of a person’s expressions and gestures in a controlled setting but that is not a result of instructions, whether explicit or implicit.” —Dina Litovsky to Tattoodo

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UNDER THE NEEDLE, DINA LITOVSKY
UNDER THE NEEDLE, DINA LITOVSKY

According to Dina, it was a tattoo convention she attended a year ago which initially piqued her interest on the subject. She observed the emotions that circulated in the room where people were getting inked in every direction. She saw the pain, the pleasure, the stings, and euphoria people went through. “I thought this was exactly the mental space that I was looking for, one in which the person is so engrossed that the photographer would be just an observer, not a participant.”

UNDER THE NEEDLE, DINA LITOVSKY
UNDER THE NEEDLE, DINA LITOVSKY

“These two ideas naturally combined to make these portraits. The people photographed are totally engrossed in their mental space, the immediacy of physical sensation overrides the awareness of the camera. At the same time, though we know they are getting tattooed, in few cases do you actually see what the ink is and the viewer is not able to make the usual assumptions about the subjects based on the tattoo itself.”—Dina Litovsky to Tattoodo

INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY

Now, let's go to her other tattoocentric (yes, that's a word now in my book) series, ‘Ink Girls’. Simply put, it's a separate series highlighting the tattoos seen on women in  the NYC Tattoo Convention 2014 in Roseland Ballroom. She specifically chose to shoot women with large, visible tattoos to go against the stigma where the more acceptable tattoos on women are small, easy to conceal, feminine pieces.

INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY

That's what we like about Dina's work. As much as we love highlighting women's beauty and appeal through tattoos and playful shoots, Dina managed to create photographs involving women that are just as intriguing.

INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY

In a wold where overly sexualised women are what draws people into actually appreciating art, Dina made her female subjects look fierce in a way that doesn't involve them being half-naked. Not to say we don't like our women in half as many clothes (trust us, we do), but it's very different when that's not part of the equation.

INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY

This project is also what pushed her to continue featuring tattooed subjects in her works. Her fascination with tattoos is what led her to start shooting them and so far, received positive feedback.

INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY
INK GIRLS, DINA LITOVSKY

“I saw how easy it was to stereotype certain types of tattoos and attribute character traits and social standing to the people that have them. In a way a traditional portrait of an individual with tattoos can be a dead end, we understand less, not more about the person.” —Dina Litovsky to Tattoodo

Dina Litovsky / by PRCBoston
Dina Litovsky / by PRCBoston

Visit her website.

Xavier

@Xavier

When she's not writing for Tattoodo, Xavier likes experimenting with art and organizing local music shows. We're kidding, she's probably asleep. Follow her on Instagram @claudia_strife

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