How to Photography Tattoos: Model Tattoo Photography

Info media photography : In my last post I covered the most common type of tattoo photography, Macro Tattoo Photography, which is used to display individual tattoos. While Macro is typically the best for displaying new or interesting tattoos, Model Tattoo Photography is the most memorable type of tattoo photography. Model Tattoo photography is the concept of focusing on not a single tattoo or a model, but rather the painting that a model’s tattoos create on there skin. A common example of this type of photography is that of modern pin-up models.
Model Tattoo Photography is not complicated, but many photographers fail to approach it the right way. As I previously stated, this type of photography focuses on the composition formed by multiple tattoos on a model, rather than the model or an individual tattoo, which is the way many photographers tend to approach this type of photography. Setting up and shooting Model Tattoo Photography can be easy if you keep a few things in mind.
1) Find your pictorial focus. This is different than your focal or any other point. Your pictorial focus is the part of the image you want to emphasize the most. When talking about model tattoo photography, this is usually the central tattoo. For example if your shooting a models back, you should find a good central tattoo to maintain as your primary focus. If your model only has a single back tattoo, use the most interesting part of the tattoo as your focus. The pictorial focus is key for keeping the composition of your photography.
Image by Suicide Girls
2) Pose around the tattoos. While in most posed photography you want to pose the model in a complimentary position to their own body, in model tattoo photography you want to position your model’s body to accentuate their tattoos. This is accomplished by using your pictorial focus and facing that so that it faces the camera in a non distorted manner, and framing the rest around it. For example if your shooting a model’s back you can have the model either lean their shoulders and body forward to stretch out the skin on their back to show off a series or a primary horizontal tattoo, or have them raise their hands into the air to accent a more vertical tattoo.
Image by Tattoo Lover.
3) Properly light your model and tattoos. Lighting a model tattoo photograph is different than lighting a model or even a macro tattoo photo. When you light a model tattoo photograph you need to keep your primary focus on the tattoos rather than the model. This can be done with a simple three point set up, utilizing only a key, soft, and back light. By using the key light to highlight the tattoos and the soft light to reduce the harshness on the shadows of the tattoos and to add a slight light on your model, you can create a stronger emphasis on the tattoos without eliminating the model.
Image by Suicide Girls
4) Moderate to high contrast with moderate sharpness. Unlike macro tattoo photography, you do not want to jack up the contrast and sharpness when shooting model tattoo photography. This is because you need to keep in mind rather than a small section of skin, you are now dealing with an entire person. You will want to adjust the sharpness and contrast to higher settings to really accentuate the different tattoos, but you need to keep from making your model look unrealistic or unattractive.

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