UK-based photographer Mark Leaver captured the tattooed faces and the stories behind each individual in his tattoo photography series.
Facial tattoos may no longer be as unconventional as they used to but they’re not something society looks upon with high regard either. It’s still something received with heavy prejudice even in the tattoo community. Social status, employability, and personal choices are often questioned and chastised. This is what pushed photographer Mark Leaver to scout the streets of UK for the stories behind these tattooed faces.
Although tattoos have become as conventional as a sort of accessory or rites of passage for the average Western youth, facial tattoos are still exceptions to what’s considered as normal and traditional. “What makes facial tattoos so distinctive is that they are still confrontational, there’s no hiding them. There are only a select few people who make that kind of commitment and it was those people that I wanted to meet and photograph,” said Leaver in an interview with Huck.
He also set out to find out if the stereotypes and widely-believed statistics on heavily tattooed people have some truth in them only to find out most of them are outdated, unsurprisingly. These weren't your typical, tattooed thugs. These people hold jobs just like the rest of us and they don't need to turn to drugs to fend for themselves.
Although some of them did struggle with illegal substances in the past, getting tattoos was actually part of their road to recovery which helped them reclaim themselves.
Leaver had to do a lot of field work, establishing connections to meet new subjects for his series. He also travelled to many parts of England in order to meet some of his subjects.
The young photographer also shared his plans on eventually publishing a book based on his photo series and re-shooting the same people in ten years time.
Among his subjects were Keith Gordon, famous for his OCD story. We talked to Gordon several months back about his facial tattoos and it seemed to have positive effects in personal, despite the protests of his wife.