I enjoy all my shoots, but I particularly had fun with this one. When I first mentioned doing a photo series for the 7 Deadly Sins, a lot of people told they thought it was over done. In some ways they’re right, but I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could come up with my own interpretation, despite the fact so many people have put their own stamp on this theme. This photoshoot was Gluttony, which involves an excess of food usually. I got the inspiration for this shoot from an old Gwen Stefani video called “Luxurious.” There’s a scene where Stefani is lying on colorfully wrapped candy. I loved the colors and the concept, and so I adapted it to my shoot. I certainly did get weird looks at the store when I picked up bags and bags of candy. Though I bought quite a lot, it still wasn’t enough. During the shoot, I made sure to arrange the candy so that I would be able to go back into Photoshop and clone the candy so that the entire background would be covered. The editing was a little more difficult than I thought it […]
Even though I have completed my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I still like to collect stories of people and their ink. I met Victor while he was working for my parents. Of course, I immediately noticed the art on his sleeve. It’s no surprise that Alice in Wonderland is one of his favorite movies. However, one thing that I was surprised to learn from my conversation with Victor is how tolerant religious communities have become in regard to tattoos. Victor is very active in his church, and he has not encountered negativity towards his tattoo. During my interview with Victor, I came to realize that tattoos give people the ability to keep their artwork and memories with them no matter what. In the past year, we’ve seen horrific environmental disasters affect many cities all over the country. Sometimes, in a matter of a just a few hours, people lose everything that they own. People with tattoos don’t have to worry about losing the art on their bodies. As tattoos have become more mainstream, our idea of art has evolved. Art is no longer exclusive. Art belongs to all of us.
Alanna is a model who I interviewed for my tattoo book. Here’s a snippet from that interview: What’s your favorite part about modeling? Everything I think. I get so excited from the moment we decide what the shoot is going to be like to what I’m going to wear and then the final product. And then I love sharing it with everybody. I think that’s why it’s become my passion and why I want it to be my career because there isn’t one thing I don’t like about it. I feel like I could go hours and hours and not tire from it. It’s just such a creative process. Because of your tattoos, do you model in a particular genre that is geared towards tattoos? No. I think I get away with a lot more loosey goosey with the genre because I fit so tightly into plus size, and they’re very open about what you look like. They want you to be trendy and spunky. So that’s the first thing they notice about me. They don’t necessarily notice the tattoos. It’s just like a cherry on top for them. I haven’t been forced to do one style.
I’m naturally a really shy person, but I’m also very curious. Photography has afforded me opportunities to learn about people, various cultures, and different perspectives. As I come to the end of my book, I’m revisiting some of the earlier shoots, when I didn’t know for sure how this project would evolve. I’m so grateful and honored to have met some incredible people through this portrait series. It’s easy to think that we’re all so different that we feel we can’t connect. If anything, this project taught me that no matter how different our lives may be, there’s is always a place to connect with people. We just have to take the time and listen. The black and white photo is from the very first shoot for my book. Angela taught me a lot about what it’s like being a tattooed woman in today’s world. I have been lucky to have worked with Angela on many shoots, and I’m very honored to have her in my book.
Last week I read an article in The Daily Beast about photographer and co-founder of WireImage Jeff Vespa. In the article, Vespa talked about celebrity portraiture and how he doesn’t like to tell his subjects how to pose, as it is not helpful in creating an authentic portrait and posing can mostly be corny, if not annoying and unnatural to the person being photographed. His work, by the way, is exquisite, and, if you haven’t seen his photography, I suggest you check him out. One of the challenges I have encountered with my tattoo project is that I’m trying to capture more than one thing in the photo. I want people to be able to appreciate the tattoo, but I also want them to be able to feel a connection with the person in the photo. For me, connection comes through the eyes. Most of the people I’ve been photographing are not the most comfortable in front of the camera. I can tell almost right away that they’re waiting for instruction on how to stand or pose. Thus, it’s always striking a balance between giving them ideas while not losing the authenticity. I always tell them to stand how they feel most comfortable, and […]
One of the things I like most about my photography are the opportunities it gives me to talk to some amazing people. Since starting my tattoo portrait series, I’ve had the chance to interview a lot of people from different backgrounds and hear their stories about why they chose their tattoos. When I first met Mel, I was a little anxious about asking her to be part of my tattoo project. I’m very shy and, like most people, I’m also afraid of rejection. However, Mel was very laid back and easy to talk to, and she agreed to be a part of my tattoo project. There was a moment, before she started her story, when I could tell she was trying to figure out how much she wanted to share. No matter who I interview, I always try to respect the boundaries of the individual. When Mel began to tell me her story I was speechless. Her tattoo represents her journey to reclaim her body after being sexually assaulted. Every facet of her tattoo, the flowers, the heart, the lock, tells a story about surviving a terrible incident and then overcoming the aftermath. What happened to Mel has happened to too many […]