A photographer named Steve Burton put up a Kickstarter for his most recent project, which involves photographing former gang members and removing their tattoos with Photoshop so that they can see what they'd look like with actual tattoo removal. Check out some of his before and after photos as well as videos of these individuals seeing themselves without gang tattoos for the first time in a very long time. Their reactions to their own Photoshopped appearances are quite moving.
It's awesome how Burton's project is encouraging these former gang members to go through with the painful process of tattoo removal. On his Kickstarter Project page, Burton writes, "These images inspire personal insight from the subjects and elicit questions of how we as a society perceive and judge those with tattoos and how this stigma goes so far as to influence these former gang member's perception of themselves." From the responses caught on film to the altered photographs, the images seem to be having their desired effect. It's great to see these people, some of whom struggle with issues like drug addiction and criminal records, seeing hope in themselves through Burton's photography. This series demonstrates the truly transformative power of art in how it enables its subjects to envision a better tomorrow.
If you want to see more videos of these former gang members talking about their experiences and having their minds blown by the magic of Photoshop, make sure to visit the project's Kickstarter page and show your support by pledging a donation. Burton has already raised more the $8,000 to turn this project into a full-length book, which will be titled Skin Deep: Looking Past the Tattoos, and with your help, the publication will surely come to fruition and help further spread awareness about the stigma placed on heavily tattooed individuals who have left gang life behind.