Lighting Challenge: Using Christmas Lights

  When I first started really getting serious about my photography, the one thing that really intimidated me was working with studio lights. Most of the time I tried getting away with just using natural or ambient light, which worked most of the time. However, there were photoshoots where I absolutely needed to use studio lighting. Before those shoots, I would suffer a lot of anxiety because I felt the pressure to get the lighting done right and in a short amount of time. I was afraid people would look down on me or judge me if it took me too many tries to get the lighting just right.   Taking classes on lighting was definitely helpful for me, but what has really helped me the most was practicing with my lighting kit over and over again and changing up the variables. It’s cool to check out what other photographers are doing, but, unless you have their exact kit, your results will be different. Instead, when I check out photographers on Instagram, I’ll adapt their techniques with what I have in my studio. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.   Confidence with lighting doesn’t happen over night. I have […]

Photographers Supporting Photographers

¬† When I first started to learn how to use a DSLR camera, I was amazed at how many photographers offered to help me grow and teach me some tricks of the trade. Stephen and Adam (pictured above) were two such photographers. Stephen was my first photography instructor, and Adam runs Global AZ Media. Thanks to Adam, I have covered several concerts that have come through the Phoenix area. Both of these photographers gave me opportunities to become a better photographer and photojournalist. When I started my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I wanted to interview these two and include them in my book because they both impacted my photography.   No art is created in a vacuum. It truly is a collaborative process because we can’t help but bring in experiences and lessons that we learn from other people. I always try to be supportive of other artists because I think that there is room for all of us, and I want to be part of an artistic community. Competition is a natural effect that drives many of us, but it doesn’t have to become a negative force in our lives. Someone once told me that […]

Liliana

    While working on my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I met many incredible people. I first met Liliana at a photoshoot. When I saw her amazing ink, I asked if she would be a part of my book. Since then, I have worked with her on other projects.   Last week, I did a photoshoot with Liliana, and she shared her new tattoos with me. Her latest additions were Gypsy tattoos, beautiful women adorned with elements of nature. Until I saw her new ink, I didn’t even know there was “Gypsy” style. It still amazes what artists can do with tattoos. Body art has grown and expanded so much in the last decade that it will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve in the next ten years.

The Importance of Tattoo Placement

Meet Angela Angela Jordan is a personal trainer and owner of Camp AJ Athletic Conditioning. When I interviewed Angela for my book, she emphasized the importance of tattoo placement. The body is the canvas and tattoos are art, so where it goes on the body is very important. She explained that a tattoo can make the body look better or worse. For example, a poorly placed tattoo on the thigh can actually make the leg look bigger, whereas certain shapes of tattoos can make the body look leaner.   At the time of the interview, Angela didn’t have nearly as much ink. As a trainer, she felt it was important that people could see her physique. Several months ago, when I saw that Angela had added a glorious lion neck tattoo to her collection of body art, I decided to reach out to her. Even now, it’s rare to see neck tattoos. She first seriously considered getting a neck tattoo when she saw a photo of herself with a large necklace that covered most of her neck. She liked the look and quickly decided to take the plunge. While she has received reactions from people, Angela says that there hasn’t […]

Gatekeepers Talk About Tattoos

The Gatekeepers is a neutral motorcycle club of professional and retired fire fighters who frequently host fundraising events. Five of their members were kind enough to come down to my studio to talk about their non-profit organization and how tattoos have evolved in the fire department.¬†Today it’s so common to see fire fighters with tattoos, but there was a time when tattoos in the fire department were not as accepted as they are today.   “There was one point in the fire department you couldn’t have any. If they showed, you had to cover them,” says Rob. “Now it’s a matter of what it is. If it’s offensive to anybody, you have to cover it.”   When I interviewed each member, I was amazed at the different styles of tattoos and how varied the stories were. While all of them had a Gatekeeper emblem tattoo, each of them had ink honoring what was important to them. For example, Bill (red shirt) got tattoos celebrating his family’s Scottish heritage. Pappy (far left) explained that the Celtic Crosses on the inside of his forearms were to remind him of his own inner strength when times got tough.   My interview with the […]

Coast Guard Eases Up on Tattoos

Sometimes we hear things that we don’t expect. I was getting ready for bed when I heard on the news that the Coast Guard was easing up on their tattoo policy. Last Thursday the Coast Guard announced less stringent tattoo regulations so that more candidates could apply for employment. For example, chest tattoos are now allowed, as long as they don’t show above the collar. Additionally, hand tattoos are accepted, but with certain restrictions.   Over the last couple of years, different military branches have also adopted less strict tattoo regulations. Those who are old enough to remember what it was like when tattoos weren’t popular can appreciate the significance of this evolution. Because tattoos are common, it’s easy to assume that ink is unconditionally accepted. It’s hard to say whether tattoos are more accepted or tolerated, and there is a difference between the two. After interviewing so many people with tattoos, I came to the conclusion that tattoos are more accepted and tolerated and it really depends on the environment. As one person explained to me, “it’s following the culture of the customer service.”   Maybe twenty or thirty years from now people will be so used to seeing […]

Tattoos: Art for the Masses

  Body of Art Even though I’ve always appreciated body art, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about the world of tattoos. While interviewing people for my tattoo book, I developed a deeper appreciation for tattoo artists. Reality shows and social media have done a lot to share the work of these incredible artists, but sometimes these platforms glamorize the industry. I learned about the sacrifices these individuals make to be a part of this industry and community. For example, I never really thought about the fact that they have to work very different hours than most people. In order for them to be available to their clients, they have to work when most people are off work. That means weekends and long nights. Sometimes they have to miss out on family events and vacations. Sometimes their marriages suffer because they have to spend long hours at the studio. Despite these challenges, however, these tattoo artists remain passionate and dedicated to their work. They continually push themselves artistically, and they create amazing art for the masses.   There’s also another aspect about tattoos that I’ve learned to appreciate since studying this burgeoning art form. Over the past […]

Tattle Tales: Session Two

I met music producer Larry Elyea when I joined his fiance’s all girl rock band The Heathers. Larry is the owner of Mind’s Eye Digital Recording Studio, and his work is well known throughout the valley. He has worked with local Phoenix musicians as well as major label artists like Five Finger Death Punch and Corey Taylor from Slipknot. While I was in The Heathers, I didn’t really have a chance get to know Larry, but the few times that I saw him, I always noticed the vibrant ink on his right arm. So naturally when I decided to do this project, I thought Larry’s portrait would be an awesome addition. During the session, Larry told me the story of how he found out he had a Staph infection. One of the tattoos was not healing properly. He eventually got extremely sick and that’s when they diagnosed him. As it turned out, his house had previously suffered severe roof damage. As a result, his house was riddled with black mold, which was compromising his immune system and thus, preventing his tattoos from healing properly. Fortunately, he fully recovered from the infection and is no longer enduring a house filled with […]