photography lessons part one
1.Use a decent camera. You should be using an SLR whether digital or analog. Film prints will end up costing much more in the long run, so investing in a good digi SLR is a start. You want one that you can put different lenses onto.
2.Use a backdrop, instead of cropping. Tack up a yard of black felt in a well-lit area at the shop, or in your station. Have people stand with the tattoo in front of this when you take their picture. Then you will not have to crop the image, and people who are critiquing you can see the placement of the art on the body.
3.Use adequate lighting.If in daytime, take the picture outdoors, in the shade. Or by the light from your window.
If you don’t have a window, use full spectrum diffuse lights. If you don’t have those, a regular light bulb with a white frame, 100W, will work. If you want to use flash, use a handheld with a hotshoe attachment and hold it at an angle to the tattoo, don’t use a flash that’s attached to the top of the camera right next to the lens. Any camera store will have the hotshoe wire, then you can hold the flash wherever you like instead of it being so direct. Tape a bit of tracing paper over the flash to get rid of the burn spot where it is most direct.
4.Get a Circular polarizing filter, and put it on your lens. This, you can turn until it deflects the light rays that cause glare. It’s kind of like the glasses for fishing-polarized sunglasses- just turn it around until you find the spot where the glare dissappears. works for shiny fresh tattoos. A top secret photographer’s trick.
5.Since you are using digital, take a ton of photos. move the flash around, the filter around, the lighting. have the person stand in different positions. then go through and find the best photos out of the bunch. better to waste pictures and time taking a bunch, and get one or two really good shots, than be chintzy and not have any good pictures.
6. If you’re going to use photoshop, refrain from cropping too much, or from using the contrast filter too much. If a photo looks washed out, contrast can go up about 3 or 4 out of a hundred, no more. If that doesn’t do enough THAT PICTURE IS NO GOOD, so stop fucking with it
7.Try to get for bigger work a picture of the person wearing the tattoo. It’s like having a photo of a painting that also shows the frame. Very visually appealing, especially to clients.
8.Use a high f-stop. If you don’t know what this means, that’s ok. Just make sure you have plenty of light, and put the camera on automatic. If you use a low fstop, some areas of the tattoo (especially on a curved body part) may be out of focus.
9. Try to get the client to stand in a natural, relaxed position. Have them face in a direction which allows them to stand normally, not twisted toward the camera. This will prevent your tattoo photo from looking distorted.
10. If the piece is big enough that it cannot all be seen from one angle, stagger the shots by overlapping in each one. Show the front, then a section which includes part of the front and the middle, then the middle, then the back/middle. It’s not very good to overlap them digitally and try to lay it out flat- the beauty opf a tattoo is in how it fits the awkward shapes of the body; not how it looks on flat paper. Try to use your photographs to show placement and flow as well as flat design.