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: Making the Book – Proofreaders

My book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, has been my first foray into the world of self-publishing. The learning curve has been huge, but I’ve learned so much from other people through social media platforms and blogs. While I don’t consider myself to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I like to use my blogs to discuss some of the challenges I faced and share what things have helped me.  In this post, I’m going to explain the importance of a proofreader.   My book doesn’t have a lot of text. It’s mostly portraits, but there’s nearly 16,000 words in the whole book and most of that were from interview excerpts. Although I think it’s a good idea to have someone you trust look over your work and get their feedback as a reader, it’s absolutely crucial to use a proofreader. My eyes spent so many hours scrutinizing this book that I could easily overlook an obvious error. For me, it wasn’t an option to not use a proofreader. Even when a mistake is minor, it distracts the reader and takes away from the work. Plus, having a professional review your work takes some of the […]

Themes

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 […]

Tattle Tales: Victor

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.

Tattoo Stories: Alanna

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.

Body of Art

  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.

It’s All About The Pose

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 […]