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.


Back To Front Page

A Portrait Of: A Gun Smith

During a recent visit by my Dad to the UK I had an unexpected opportunity to photograph a Gun Smith in his workshop, now in full transparency the Gun Smith is a relative which can makes things a little easier (not always) on an ad-hoc shoot.

I just about to leave to take Dad shopping and was asked If I would photograph David in his workshop…not one to pass up a challenge I said yes.

Dave Bradbury .. Environmental Portrait

Upon walking in to the workshop I was greeted by a mix of tungsten desk lamps, fluorescent tube lights.. you know those crappy kind found in most offices and schools and some natural (overcast) window light.  Quite the mix of colour temperatures to deal with.  The space was also small/tight due to the equipment, lathes & tools around.. so wide lens it is then.

Ok so I have 10 minuets to take no Make an environmental portrait under mixed lighting conditions and all I have with me in my smaller bag is…

Canon 500D
Canon 18-55 IS Kit Lens
Canon 50mm F1.8
Canon 430EX II Speedlite – I always carry a speedlite
TTL Cord

No Light stand, no modifiers, no wireless triggers, no tripod – I was traveling light.

My first thought as David set a rifle on the work bench was focal length.. I needed something wide, the 50mm is to tight a field of view on a crop sensor for this space so its got to be the 18-55 somewhere around the 24mm mark.  Next though was oh crap I have a shit storm of different colour temperatures to deal with already and I'm about to add another.. flash, as you can see in the shot above we already have Overcast Day light (not enough to work with alone), Tungsten, Fluorescent and the flash I was about to add matches none of them exactly.

One way to deal with this problem would be to gel the flash ... that and a slight problem the gel packs are sitting in my main bag at home about 30 minuets away. Ok only thing I can do is find a white balance that gets me close.. flash white balance would of made things too warm, tungsten.. nope not going to cut it flash will go cold as would the day light same for fluorescent. So AWB it is, I rarely shoot AWB as I prefer the consistency of locking to a particular white balance but at times it can save the day as it will let the camera do the heavy lifting for me. Using AWB has warmed the flash up a little and balanced out the lighting better than locking the camera into a set white balance.

After finding my composition by dropping low I took an ambient light reading F6.3, ISO800, 1/60th sec .. ok looks good, windows has blown out but that's not important , time to bring in the flash, attached via a 1.5m TTL cord I set the speedlite to ETTL (yes i do sometime use TTL) set the flash head zoom to 24mm to cover the scene handed to to my VAL (Voice Activated Light stand AKA Dad)  and shot the first frame. Always let your subject know you just getting dial in.


First frame, ambient looks ok and I'm happy enough with what AWB is doing but I can drop the ISO  2 stops from 800 to 200 taking my shutter speed from 1/60thsec to 1/15th sec – Why?  It will give me a cleaner file and  I nor my subject are moving, how ever as always dropping down to a slower shutter speed I think got to keep things steady ( I did in the end bump back to ISO400 for a 1/30th sec shutter speed). Looking at this first frame of 3 made the flash exposure is off (+1/3rd Flash EV needed) and the flash is too far off the side so I directed the VAL Dad to bring the flash round a little and took the second frame.


Second frame is looking better exposed I'm happy with the flash exposure and the ambient also  the move of the desk lamp far right has provided a nice rim light on the rifle.  Problem is composition needs shifting a little and the flash is too side lit and too low casting a distracting shadow on the window behind David and to the right of the lamp.

For the final shot I brought the light further round and higher to drop a shadow under the chin and to deal with the shadows on the window panels which can be seen in the final shot below, you can see David’s shadow is now gone (its behind him) and the lamp shadow is now less distracting.  You can still tell this was lit with bare flash (hard light) if you look at the shadows on the apron, rifle strap and the handle of the vice.. also the highlights on he front of the rifle give the cooler temperature of the flash away.  I did not direct David to much as he fell in to this pose and it looked right, confortable for him the only thing I did was direct his chin/head position to avoid loosing light in the eyes and reflections in the glasses.

Dave Bradbury .. Environmental Portrait

Overall I am happy with the final image as were David and my Dad, could it be improved. yes with additional gear but that takes time and a stronger back to carry all that crap around, remember it not the amount of gear or tools you have.. its what you do with them that ultimately matters.

Now I will be going back to shoot some more environmental portraits and details shots in he new year and yes I will take more gear with me (modifiers, lights, Running Manual Winking smile ) but only because I know what they will do for me and the results they will give me, you can do allot with bare flash but its never a soft light and its indiscriminate to what it hits. I’m looking forward to seeing the results from the new year.