Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014

Last Sunday, we all went down down to the Sussex coast and while my wife and kids were in The Lanes, I checked out the Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014.

Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014

Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014

This is a culture/scene I know nothing about. I have not been inked and will (probably) remain that way. But I am curious by nature and having found out about the event, thought it was something I should go and check out. I wish now that I’d spent a little longer there than I did. It was on for two days but I couldn’t make the Saturday and by the time we got down on Sunday the place was heaving. The Brighton Marathon had taken place that morning so the traffic was a nightmare (or is Brighton always like this)?

Parking up on the seafront, I had four hours on the clock before we needed to head back so I walked to the Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel where it was all taking place. Take note if you go next year, unless you pre-pay for entrance, they only accept cash on the door and the hotel cash machine had run out. Good start. A trip up to the banks in town meant another 15 minutes wasted but there you go.

The first room I entered seemed to be a sort of trade show room with lots of stands selling all the paraphernalia – tattoo machines, inks, needles, stencils, books etc. If I’d had more time, I probably would have had a chat with someone about all this stuff but as time was limited, I was only really interested in taking some photos. I didn’t really know if there was an etiquette to follow when photographing people while they were having tattoos done. Normally I like to just observe and document what I see in front of me, but there were times when I came across somebody I liked the look of and just asked if it was OK for me to photograph them. Pretty much everyone said yes and on the whole, the people I spoke to were lovely – really happy to talk about themselves, their tattoos and the stories behind them.

It was a real eye-opener. Tattoos are very common these days, but the people here took them very seriously indeed. Artists had come from all over the world each with their own unique style.

There were masses of piercings too and I expected this. They seemed to go hand in hand with tattoos. But beards, that’s what got me. Beards are definitely in and I think it’s a great look. The beard has to be fairly full but well kept – a tidy beard. And the hair to go with it is usually a quiff looking very slick. There were four barbers doing a good trade in this look and plenty of onlookers.

On the day, I just carried my Fuji x100s with it’s fixed (35mm equivalent) focal length lens. I wasn’t that interested in taking stock shots of individual tattoo designs (the sort of stuff which would be used in tattoo magazines). I was more interested in shooting editorial type shots and this camera is great for that. It’s quite discreet and doesn’t ‘scream big camera and flash’. I had a quite a few people ask me about it and they seem intrigued by the retro styling and it often gets mistaken for an older film camera.

Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014

So, no, I didn’t come away with a tattoo. I’m far too chicken for that. But I will go back again as visually it’s a great event to photograph.

Feel free to comment about the images here – I’d love to know what you think about them. I’ve added them to the Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014 online web gallery if you’d like to buy a print or the hi res file and I’m also adding these to my Facebook page.

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