Tattoo Photography: 6 Tips for Taking Professional Shots - The CosmoGlo

Tattoo Photography: 6 Tips for Taking Professional Shots

Ari V.

Why is Quality Tattoo Photography Important?

If you are a tattoo artist, you know that tattoo magazines always search for distinctive and captivating pieces to showcase. Submitting your tattoo photos can be an excellent way to get your inked masterpiece seen by a wider audience. However, capturing high-quality photographs of tattoos can be pretty daunting, given the intricate details and unique form of self-expression and art they represent. But fret not! In this article, we'll explore some valuable tips and tricks to elevate your tattoo photography game and help you take your artwork to the next level, whether you are a veteran tattoo artist or just learning how to tattoo.

6 Tips for Superior Tattoo Photos

1.Take Multiple Shots from Different Angles

Taking multiple shots from different angles is essential to capture a tattoo's full beauty and intricacy. By doing so, you can ensure you have a complete and comprehensive artwork record. It is advisable to take photos of the entire tattoo and close-ups of specific details or areas of interest. This will allow you to appreciate the nuances of the design, such as the shading and the use of color. Additionally, playing with different angles can help you find the perfect perspective to show the tattoo in its best light. Whether shooting from above, below, or from the side, each angle will provide a unique view of the tattoo.

Tattoo Artist Different Photos

Photo Credit: @sashatattooing 

2. Lighting is Vital

Before and After Tattoo Lighting

Lighting is undeniably a crucial factor to consider when taking quality tattoo photos. The right lighting can make all the difference in bringing out your tattoo ink and making it appear more vibrant. In contrast, poor lighting can result in blurry or grainy images, which reduce your tattoo's beauty and impact.

When setting up your lighting, consider the placement of your tattoo and the angle from which you'll be shooting. Highlight the contours and colors of the piece. Experiment with different positions and intensities of light to find the optimal setup. Additionally, be mindful of any reflections or color casts that may affect the accuracy of your photos. By taking time to master the art of lighting, you'll be able to capture tattoo photos that show the artistry of your ink.

Therefore, choosing the right lighting conditions for your tattoo photoshoot is essential. Natural light is often the best option as it offers a soft, even glow that enhances the texture and dimension of your tattoo. However, if you're shooting indoors, you must rely on artificial lighting. The key is to use bright and even light that illuminates the tattoo evenly without creating harsh shadows or glare. While ring lights may be the most popular, they tend to cast shadows over your working area. Cordless lights are available, but you must factor in how long your tattooing session will be and how often you need to recharge.

CosmoGlo XL

We recommend the CosmoGlo XL, which uses dimmable LEDs with three tonal options. The daylight setting will give you the most accurate color vibrancy, and the diffuser shield will cut down on glare. Perfect for taking high-quality tattoo photographs and creating content to share your work with the world.


3. Use the Right Camera Equipment

Camera Equipment

In addition to lighting, choosing the right camera equipment is essential to capture stunning tattoo photos. A high-quality camera can help you achieve sharp and detailed images that truly showcase the beauty of your tattoo. While a professional DSLR camera with a macro lens is the ideal setup for tattoo photography, not everyone has access to this equipment.

However, this does not mean you cannot take great tattoo photos. High-end smartphones with advanced camera settings can work just as well, especially if they offer manual focus, exposure control, and raw image capture features. With these features, you can fine-tune your camera settings to capture the perfect shot of your tattoo.

When shooting with a phone camera, avoid using the camera flash. The flash can create harsh shadows and cause glare that can obscure the details of your tattoo. Instead, use other light sources to illuminate your tattoo and highlight its colors and textures.

Moreover, pay attention to the camera angle and framing when taking your tattoo photos. Experiment with different perspectives, such as close-up shots focusing on specific parts of your tattoo or wider photographs capturing its overall shape and placement. Consider the background and surroundings of your tattoo and choose a backdrop that complements its style and theme.

The CosmoGlo XL light comes with a phone clip to capture your work effortlessly. This can stabilize your before and after shots, capture time-lapse content, and film your process from start to finish. The phone clip attaches to the top of the light, so you will have the perfect lighting to capture your art. It is also easily detachable to allow you access to your phone as needed.


4. Pay Attention to Composition

When it comes to taking photos, composition is a key element that should not be overlooked. Composition refers to the way the different elements in the photograph are arranged and how they interact with one another. A well-composed photograph can enhance the overall beauty and impact of the tattoo, while a poorly composed one can detract from it.

Rule of Thirds Photography

Composition Tips

One of the most widely used guidelines for composition is the rule of thirds. This rule suggests that the photograph should be divided into a grid of three equal parts, both horizontally and vertically. Important elements of the photograph should then be placed along these gridlines rather than at the center of the image. This creates a more dynamic and visually interesting composition, as the eye tends to be drawn in these areas.

Another technique that can be useful when composing a tattoo photo is to use the Golden Spiral or Golden Ratio. This mathematical concept has been used in art and design for centuries and is known for its aesthetic appeal. The Golden Spiral is a logarithmic spiral that can be drawn using a series of connected rectangles that conform to the Golden Ratio. When used in photography, the Golden Spiral can help you create a visually appealing composition that draws the viewer's eye to key elements in the photo.

To use the Golden Spiral, you can imagine a spiral starting at the center of the photo and curving outward towards the edges, with key elements of the photo placed along the spiral. Alternatively, you can use the Golden Ratio to divide the photo into pleasing proportions, with key features placed at the intersection points. Many cameras and photo editing software now include tools that can help you create the Golden Spiral or Ratio in your photos, making it an easy and quick way to compose a visually appealing image.

Golden Spiral Photography

Photo Backdrop

Another important consideration when it comes to composition is the photograph's background. A cluttered or distracting tattoo parlor in the background can take away from the focus on the tattoo itself. Choosing a simple, neutral background that won't compete for attention with the tattoo is best. This could be a plain wall, a solid-colored sheet, or even a blank paper.

In addition to these guidelines, it's important to be creative and experiment with different compositions. Try shooting from different angles or perspectives to see what works best for the tattoo in question. And don't be afraid to break the rules occasionally - sometimes, the most striking images come from taking risks and trying something new.

Ultimately, paying attention to composition when taking tattoo photos is to show the beauty and artistry of the tattoo in the best possible way. By following these guidelines and experimenting with different approaches, you can create photographs that do justice to tattoos' stunning designs and skilled craftsmanship.


5. Edit Your Photos

Image Editing

Capturing stunning tattoo photos is just the beginning of your artistic journey. To show your art in the best possible light, you must edit your images skillfully. Using popular editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, you can fine-tune your photos' colors, contrast, and saturation levels to achieve the perfect balance of vibrancy and realism. However, it's important to exercise restraint while editing, as over-editing can produce an artificial look that undermines the authenticity and beauty of your tattoo. Keep your editing subtle and minimal to ensure your tattoo photos genuinely shine.


6. Submit Your Tattoo Photos

Submitting your tattoo photos to magazines can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it's essential to approach it with professionalism and a strategic mindset. Before you start submitting, it's crucial to research the magazines you're interested in and understand their submission guidelines. Many magazines have specific requirements for image resolution, file formats, and even subject matter, so read the guidelines carefully and follow them closely to increase your chances of acceptance.

When submitting your photos, providing context and background information about your tattoo is essential. This could include a short bio about yourself as an artist, the inspiration behind the design, or any other interesting details that could add value to the magazine's readers. Providing this information makes your submission more engaging and demonstrates your professionalism and dedication to your craft.

Tattoo Photography Strategy

Ultimately, the key to submitting successful tattoo photos to magazines is approaching the process strategically. Pay close attention to detail, and show your work in the best possible light. Continue honing your skills until you have images you feel proud to submit to your favorite tattoo magazine. With these tips in mind, you can increase your chances of success and achieve recognition for your art.