Tattoo Photography: How to Take Good Tattoo Photos

Tattoo Photography: How to Take Good Tattoo Photos

Wondering how to take awesome, high-quality photos of your tattoos or your client’s tattoos? This guide is for you!

In this mega guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about tattoo photography, including choosing the right equipment, lighting, and editing techniques along with some tips for taking good tattoo photos.

Whether you’re a tattoo artist looking to showcase your work or just someone looking to take some great shots of their ink, these tips will help you take stunning tattoo photos that you’ll be proud to share! Cover photo by Kristian Angelo.

Choosing Equipment for Tattoo Photography

One of the first things you’ll need to consider when it comes to tattoo photography is your equipment. You can take them with your smartphone or with a good camera, and each of these has its own pros and cons.

Let’s a look at them in more detail:

Smartphones

Smartphones have come a long way in recent years, and many of them now have really great high-quality cameras that are more than capable of taking awesome tattoo photos.

One of the biggest advantages of using a smartphone for tattoo photography is that it’s the best way to get started and you don’t need to invest in expensive cameras. And it’s always with you, which means you can capture a tattoo at a moment’s notice.

Smartphones are also easy to use and don’t have a ton of different options and settings like cameras. Plus, many of them have built-in filters that go really well with tattoos and they have editing tools that you can use to touch up your photos in minutes.

Some features that make them great include:

  • High quality photos and video
  • Adjust lighting settings
  • Adjust focus and exposure
  • Timing
  • Grid mode

Cameras

If you want to take your tattoo photography to the next level, you may want to consider using a camera like a DSLR or a full frame camera. 

While smartphones have come a long way, they still can’t compete with the image quality and control that a good camera offers. The more megapixels the camera has, the better details it will capture.

A camera also gives you more flexibility when it comes to choice of lens which can be super important for tattoo photography. We’ll talk more about lenses later on in this post.

Lighting For Tattoo Photography

Lighting is an important factor in any type of photography, and tattoo photography is no exception. Good lighting can make a huge difference in the quality of your tattoo photos, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right. 

Most of the time you’ll be taking photos indoors, so you’ll want to use soft, diffused light that illuminates the tattoo without creating harsh shadows or highlights and avoids glare.

tattoo photography tips

Photo: Hung Pham

This can be achieved in a number of ways, like using a softbox, a reflector, or natural light. Experiment with different lighting setups to see what works best for your particular situation.

If you don’t have the equipment, the right flash will do the trick.

How Do You Reduce Glare on a Tattoo Photo?

Glare can be a problem when photographing tattoos since our bodies are kinda curved and the lighting won’t be uniform.

To reduce glare, try using a diffused light source. That way, the light is spread out evenly and the tattoo looks better. And whatever you do, don’t use the flash directly as it’ll create even more glare. Instead, use a diffuser to soften the light. The harsher the light is, the more glare there will be.

You can also try using a polarizing filter on your camera or using a reflector to bounce light onto the tattoo from a different angle. Finally, you can try editing the photo in post-processing to reduce glare using something like the “Dehaze” filter in Lightroom.

Tattoo Photography Tips

Now that you’ve chosen your equipment and figured out your lighting, it’s time to start taking some pictures! Here are a few tips to help you get the best shot:

Get Close!

One of the key elements of a good tattoo photo is that it shows off the tattoo in great detail. To do this, you’ll want to get as close as possible to the tattoo without distorting the image.

This might require using a lens with a longer focal length or using a camera with a high-resolution sensor.

Putting something like a moisturizer on the tattoo would enhance the colors more but it could cause reflections, so don’t over apply. Older tattoos look much better in photos than fresh tattoos, or tattoos that are damaged by the sun or swimming without waterproofing the tattoo.

Experiment With Angles

Try shooting from a variety of angles to see which ones work best for your tattoo. You might find that a straight-on shot is the most effective, or you might prefer a more dramatic angle that shows off the tattoo in a unique way. 

Try playing with the shadows too!

Simple Backgrounds

Simple backgrounds like plain black allow the tattoo to be the main focus of the photo. A cluttered or busy background can distract from the tattoo, making it difficult to see or appreciate the design.

Plus, it’s easier to edit photos with a black or simple background because they won’t be affected much when editing like adjusting the lighting or color balance of the tattoo, and are easier to work with.

tattoo photography tips and tricks

Photo: Eugene Chystiakov

Use A Tripod

A tripod can help you keep your camera steady and ensure that your photos are crisp and clear. This is especially important if you’re using a longer focal length lens or shooting in low light.

Pose

The pose is an important element in creating a visually appealing and meaningful tattoo photo. It helps to showcase the tattoo in a way that engages the viewer and helps to tell a story about the subject and their tattoo.

A good pose can highlight the details and design of the tattoo, as well as add a sense of movement or emotion to the photo.

How to Edit Tattoo Photos

Once you’ve taken your photos, you’ll probably want to do a bit of editing to touch them up. Here are a few tips for editing tattoo photos:

Lighting: Make sure the light in your tattoo photos are even and not too harsh or dim. This will help to bring out the details and colors of the tattoo more clearly.

Use Professional Software: Editing software like Adobe Photoshop has advanced features that allow for precise editing and manipulation of images that photo editing apps don’t have.

Remove distractions: If there are any distractions in the photo, such as objects, remove them using the clone or healing tool in your editing software.

Enhance colors: Use color adjustment tools to enhance the vibrancy and saturation of the tattoo’s colors. Be careful not to oversaturate the photo, as this can make the tattoo appear unrealistic.

Sharpen the image: Use the sharpening tool to bring out the details and lines of the tattoo. This can help to make the tattoo appear more defined.

Clean up the skin: Use the clone or healing tool to remove any blemishes or discoloration on the skin around the tattoo. This can help to make the tattoo stand out more and draw attention to the artwork.

Just remember to keep your tattoo photos looking as realistic as possible. It’s easy to over-edit and end up with tattoos that don’t look quite right. Remember, the main focus should always be on the tattoo itself.

Bottom Line

Well, it looks like we’ve covered a lot of ground on tattoo photography. We’ve talked about the importance of lighting, finding the right angle and editing to have great looking tattoo photos.

Tattoo photography can be rewarding but sometimes challenging. However with the right equipment, lighting, and editing techniques, you can take beautiful, high-quality photos of your tattoos or your client’s tattoos. 

FAQs – What Lens for Tattoo Photography?

Talking lens for tattoo photography, Wide-angle lenses are great for shots with the person in a background like at his workplace. Portrait lenses are great for shots of just the tattooed person with a blurred background. Macro lenses are great for close up tattoo shots to capture a lot of details.

Moreover, a lens with a longer focal length will allow you to get close to the tattoo and show off the details. A lens with a wide aperture (f/2.8 or lower) will also be helpful for shooting in low light and creating a shallow depth of field.

Some popular lens options for tattoo photography include the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens and the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens.

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