Pictures of Painted People


I have a long-standing fascination with tattoos. I don’t have any of my own, but I’ve long loved the idea of being able to customise your own skin, that your physical identity is something that can be modified by more than just clothing.

Tattoos to me are an expression of individuality (though I know that they’re sometimes used as an expression of conformity; I’d love to delve into that some more some time).

My friend Julia told me about her backpiece a couple of years ago. It was partially inspired by Man Ray‘s photograph Le Violon d’Ingres. I’d been talking about photographing it for a while but we could never get our diaries co-ordinated enough for us to actually shoot it. Luckily we found time recently and in a very simple home-studio setup we managed to shoot a few frames.


The lighting was really, really simple: one Bowens GM400 head in a beauty dish to camera right. For the last few shots, where Julia was facing left, I added a gridded SB-26 on very low power to add a bit of rim light.


For those that are interested, the final setup looked something like this:

Lighting diagram

I know that everyone and their dog these days has a tattoo portrait project running, so maybe I won’t make a project out of this kind of work, but still: there are an awful lot of interestingly-inked people out there…