Looking for Subjects for a Personal Project: #TattooStory

 As the title says I am looking for subjects for a personal project I am about to start, the title of which will give some idea of what its about but before we get in to the details a little about me and what I am looking to achieve with this project.

       Working Title:  #TattooStory

My name is Rick and I am a portrait photographer based in Stockport, UK.  This project is not just simply personal work it’s about challenging my-self as a photographer, meeting new people, listening to new stories and also building a body of work that shows a different side of my photography.

If I said I wasn't as nervous as I am excited about this project I would be flat out lying to you.  I have asked myself am I making it too complicated but I just have to run with this layout/idea.. It just feels right.  Also I will pad this out with an image or 2 from the project once I have them shot.

I also want to make it known that I understand what I am asking could be difficult to do both time wise but also personally so please be sure you understand what this project is about, what is being asked of you and that the resulting body of work will be shown on my site/online.

Below are the details behind the project and hopefully enough information to answer any questions you might initially have.  If you have others then please just ask.           


       The Details


I am looking for 10 (this number may change) different subjects/people for this project each person will receive prints in return for their time/story given.  The prints will be one set of large and one set of small prints (18x12, 9x6) so you will have options on which you display should you wish to.  Should you want additional prints for family that can be arranged with digital files on a USB memory stick. 

Why Prints?  Simply they hold more value than a cd or memory stick with just digital files on, you can hold them, they make people talk… and more importantly they get seen and not locked in an a device and forgotten.  But don’t worry I will give you web sized images as well.

For each shoot/subject I will be making 3 images, 2 of which are portraits and the other is a detail shot.

  •  A ¾ Length Portrait – Tattoo to Be Visible.
  •  A Close Up of the Tattoo – Detail Shot.
  •  Environmental Portrait.

But there will be a 4th element that will start each set off, the TattooStory.  What I am asking is not only to come in to your home/place to make the portraits mentioned but to also get a story from you.  

This story will be the first plate shown in the gallery and will be written by you.. still reading?  Ok good.  It has to be your story from you to work; I can’t write that part or just make notes then ad-lib.  So I am looking for people that have a Tattoo that comes with a story….

  • To remember a loved one.
  • Signify an event or moment in life.
  • Something personal.

I get how this can be a big ask, really I do and I understand it could be a very personal story.  Now I don’t just want people who got a Tattoo whilst out drinking.. Or one that says Made In (insert town name).. Yeah trust me I have seen those… they suck. 

It’s about the story of the Tattoo and what it represents and not about the process of getting a Tattoo, lots of those sites around.

For the environmental portrait I am looking to photograph you in an environment (room or place) that also has something/an item that visually ties in with the Story behind the Tattoo and what it represents.  It could be a picture, an object, the room or place itself.


       Questions Answered


What Areas are you looking to work in?

Since I am based in the North west I am looking at that area first but will travel (within UK) if required. 

How much time will this process take? 

The first 2 shots are pretty easy to shoot but the environmental may take more time; it’s hard to say as it will depend on the environment and the elements to be included.

Once I have a few stories shot I will have a better idea of how long it should take and I will be able to show what the process is like in more detail.

Can we split the shoots in to multiple ones?

Yup no problem, I understand it’s your time, your place.  The first 2 shots can be done easily on the same day as the background and lighting are real close to being the same; the environmental can be done on another day.  If you are really pushed for time we can reschedule or split the 3 images across 3 shoots if needs be.  I am coming to you and will work around you.

Will my house become a studio?

Yeah kind of, I would need to set up 3-4 lights and a background for the first 2 shots and a few lights for the Environmental.  The first 2 images can be shot at the same time as they are in pretty much in the same lighting setup.

I have diagrammed the lighting and planned it all out as much as I can so it goes as smoothly as possible in terms or lighting and logistics.

Can we not come to your studio?

Absolutely. The studio is located in Stockport

How many people will be coming?

For the most part just me, unless I feel the need or have the availability of an assistant.  If I do need to bring an assistant I will let you know and to be honest it will speed up the whole process if I do.  I don’t have a full time assistant yet.

Any Paper Work?

In addition to you writing your story I will have a release form for you to fill in, it will lay out how the images will be used and what you will receive in compensation for your time.  Please know I will NOT sell these images or put them in a stock image library ever.  But the work will be displayed on my site/blog and on social media.

How can I take part?

The best way to contact me is via email or phone the details for which can be found on the( Contact / About Page ).  

If you have any other questions about this project or me and my work then please feel free to contact me.   I look forward to working with you and photographing your #TattooStory

P.S If you know someone who may be interested in this project then please pass the link on - here is a short link you can copy and paste or right click and copy link.



Update: 14/03/14   - You can see the first stories in the project gallery here which should give you an idea of the process, also I have a blog post about the first shoot here

Currently I am talking to 3 more subjects for this project and in total I am looking to photograph 10.  I look forward to hearing from you.


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#TattooStory - 1a (TJ Bear) 1b (Time and Tide) - Graham F

It's an exciting and scary (mostly scary) thing starting a project, all kinds of things run through your head but you have to move forward.

Shot the first two stories for this project back in December, thanks to a broken PC and having to buy and setup an new one I am only getting round to posting the images in the project gallery today.  Anyway..

When I announced this project I was not sure what kind of response to expect but was pleasantly surprised at the great initial response.  The first subject could not of been better... Graham F and his two stories are a great way to kick start this project off.

I travelled down to Poole for this shoot, never been but was impressed by what I saw.  Decided to stay over for a weekend to give me enough time to shoot if the weather decided to have fun with us.. which it kind of did.

My original project plan layout was to shoot 3 images per story, but Graham threw me a curve ball he had two great stories and I had travelled 230 miles so I had to shoot both of them.  

Since the two stories tie in and work together for the environmental portrait shot I decided to shoot only one environmental for the two stories.

In the blog post announcing this project I talk a little about the process and the locations where the shoots will happen, in the case of this one we could not shoot at Grahams family home so we re purposed my Hotel room as a studio for the first 4 images.

Its a fairly simple lighting set up as it goes but not with out its own challenges,  The room was small with white walls and a low white ceiling... great until you want to light a background (one of the walls). 

You can get an idea of the lighting setup in the image below, had to make it work in that small space and with those walls.


Just to give you an idea the set up is 3-4 lights and would normally need space to set up 3-3 light stands, two of which for the background.  The difference in this set up is the background light was placed on the floor due to space limitations.  Problem solver first photographer second.

Main Light:  Speedlite in a Westcott 28" Apollo

Fill Light : Speedlite in aWestcott 60" Umbrella (shoot through) just to fill the shadows a little.

Background Light:  Speedlite with a flag/gobo.  Normally 2 will be used if the space is large enough.

In a perfect world I would be able to shoot all the 3/4 and detail shots for this project in a studio but (a) I don't own one... yet and (b) its not always practical to get people into a studio.

A few things about Graham before we go in to the images from the Stories. 

1. He's a great guy and gave everything in his stories, for that I am very grateful.

2. He's a photographer himself.... Ahh Shit!  was my first thought, I mean come  on its hard enough working with a stranger in a strange environment let alone him knowing what I am doing  and quite possibly how well I am (or not) doing it.  :)

But seriously he's a good man who has been through allot, was nearly down and out but kept on keeping on.. kept moving forward.   I could take allot away from that and his stories alone, never mind a set of new images.

Graham's first #TattooStory is named "TJ Bear" after his late Granddad and is full of Family pride & history.  

Grahams second #TattooStory is named "Time and Tide" and revolves around a very personal battle, victory and life motto. 

You can see a smaller preview layout below. But images and stories are best viewed in the main gallery. 

Along with the two stories I also shot an environmental portrait to tie them both in.  I don't have a BTS shot for the environmental... mostly because I forgot to shoot one (I always do that) but also because it was a simple portrait in terms of lighting.

I used a bare speedlite with a CTO gel on.  Picture this.. we are at the docklands in a coastal town sooo it was windy and dam cold,  I had a £320 light rig on the waters edge with a light stand bag attached to weight it down and it still had me jumping up and catch it on one or two occasions.  Not a chance I could of used an umbrella or softbox with out the light and me after it going swimming. 

The environmental portraits are the biggest shrug your shoulders with a blank look image in this project, reason is I have no idea what stories or environments are coming my way. 

I managed to get this shot inside of 5 hours and that included travel a beer lunch break and a talk or two about photography which involved discussions about the industry today and photographers that have influenced us and our work.

Now  I figure most of the #TattooStory's could be shot in about 4-5 hours total.  Remind me to arrange an assistant for windy on location work next time. :)

I am still looking for #TattooStory's for this project during 2014, full details about the project can be found on the link below.

Personal Work + Project's

Thank again Graham for your time and stories.  Stay in Touch.


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