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How to Nail Tattoo Photography to Impress Your Clients


As a tattoo artist, you know that having great pictures of your work is essential to impressing potential clients and growing your business. However, no matter how good your work is, taking quality photos of fresh tattoos can sometimes be a challenge. In this blog post, we will run through some of the best tips for taking good tattoo photos that will really make your work stand out in your online portfolio. With the right techniques and lighting, you'll be taking stunning photos that show off your skills as a tattoo artist in no time!

Plus, to get your healed shots looking pristine, don't forget to pick up a studio pack or two of tattoo aftercare!

MTS Tattoo Balm Cotton Candy 15ml tins

How to Take Good Tattoo Photos

When it comes to nailing tattoo photography, the main issue stems from the fact that fresh tattoos usually have a red swollen appearance that can cause unwanted shine and glare. Consequently, it's important to give the finished piece some time to 'cool down' between dropping your tools and picking up your camera. The tattoo should also be cleaned with soap and water to make sure that all excess ink or blood is removed. Making sure the tattoo is clean and dry should reduce some of the redness and help prevent glare from ruining your new tattoo image.


Berserker bear tattoo

Berserker bear tattoo by Sponsored Artist, Josh Hurrell (@joshhurrelltattoos)


Best Equipment for Tattoo Photos

Nowadays, most people carry smartphones, which are a great option for the vast majority of people looking to take beautiful images of tattoos. Although a smartphone may seem like the 'cheat' option for some, the latest models feature high-end cameras that have everything needed to create an impressive image without the additional unnecessary settings and cost of a professional camera. 

There are a few things you can do to make sure that you get the most out of your smartphone's camera. Make sure you learn about the different features available to you on your particular device to help you find the perfect setting for taking photos of new tattoos. For example, if your smartphone allows you to adjust the aperture then this will allow you to focus in on the actual tattoo while taking attention away from the background. 


Itachi anime tattoo

Itachi anime tattoo by Sponsored Artist, Scott Campbell (@scottycamstattoo)


Alternatively, if you are looking to create a professional portfolio in print then a DSLR camera may be the best for your tattoo photography. With a DSLR camera there are multiple adjustments you can make to help you capture the perfect picture. However, if you are planning on going down the DSLR route, it is important to research and understand how to get the most out of your different settings as, for the best results, it relies a lot more on user knowledge than a regular point and shoot camera.

Best Lighting for Tattoo Photography

Arguably, no matter how good your device is, the key to impressive tattoo photography lies in a good lighting setup. The lighting source you use may be the natural light from a window or artificial light from a ring light, LED panel, or your studio lights for example. However, given that freshly tattooed skin is usually shiny with ink, you may encounter unwanted glare if your light source is too direct. Play around with different positions and angles to try and limit glare and shadows that may affect the quality of your tattoo images.


Floral blackwork tattoo

Floral blackwork tattoo by Sponsored Artist, Tony Kennedy (@tkennedyuk)


Other Tattoo Photography Tips

When capturing your fresh tattoo image it's important to show all the details. However, try not to isolate it too much from the body. The placement and how it may compliment other existing tattoos can be just as significant as the new tattoo itself. Getting your composition correct will take your tattoo photography to the next level. 

Nailing pictures of tattoos can be a process of trial and error. It is important to experiment with different lighting, framing and editing settings until you find what works best for you. Plus, don't forget to pick up some tattoo aftercare for your studio to make sure your healed photos do your work justice!

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  • Sarah Crookes