I went down to the coast again at the weekend to photograph the Brighton Tattoo Convention 2015. Like last year, the event was held at the Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel and featured some of the best artists from around the world.
I went to the event last year for a couple of hours and knew I wanted to go back again. I felt quite privileged, watching all these great artists at work. Tattoos do seem to be more popular today and the people who come here are real devotees. And for me, who loves to people watch, it’s a great place to come.
Last year I did a 365 project photographing one person every day. I could quite easily have chosen 365 people just from the short time I was there. Although I feel a bit of an outsider (I’m not tattoed myself and probably will remain that way – too freckly for a start), I certainly don’t approach events like this as a sort of ‘freak show’. It’s a creative environment and I’m interested to see the wide variety of artwork being produced. Some of the designs appealed more than others. Like every other art form it’s very subjective. Some work I found quite beautiful, e.g. I think the woman in the last two shots in this gallery looks amazing. But that’s what makes the whole scene so fascinating. All these people are very comfortable with how they look and don’t really give a damn what others think.
As far as photographing the event goes, I once again used my lovely little Fuji x100s. It’s small and discreet with a fixed 23mm lens (35mm equiv.). I didn’t really need anything else. I wanted more of documentary/street type feel to the shots and wasn’t there to photograph the individual tattoos, more the people involved. Some people were shot unaware but others, like the ones having work done, were often ask if it was OK for me to photograph them. It only seemed polite. They all said yes and having made the initial contact, meant I could often move in closer without feeling I was imposing.
You don’t go through all the pain, time and money just to hide the lovely artwork away. It needs to be seen and shown off. Most people here aren’t short on confidence. Facial tattoos figure quite heavily too. I can’t imagine it’s a decision you take lightly to get your face done. But rightly or wrongly, it must affect the way you go about your business and how others perceive you every day of your life. I met a striking couple, Nick and Silvia walking round. They had similar facial tattoos and piercings. With their height difference, they just seemed to fit together well and made for a few nice shots against a plain grey wall.
The full body tattoo blokes were there again. I saw them last year and one of them became my portrait of the day (number 47 of the 365). I recognised him straightaway (well you would), but he was a little different – four stone lighter. He told me he’d been in the gym and was eating less and had managed to shift all this weight.
All in all, an afternoon well spent. I’m sure I’ll be back again in 2016, hopefully with a bit more time to spare.
Bearded lady, Harnaam Kaur
Brighton Tattoo Convention 2015
two photos, one year apart – on the left, 2014’s #portrait365 photo and on the right, the one taken yesterday (four stone lighter and new neck and feet tattoos).
Nick and Silvia
I hope you liked the photos – please feel free to comment and share the post.
Prints and downloads of these images can purchased here http://craigprentis.zenfolio.com/brightontattooconvention2015
If you’d like to see last year’s post, click here Brighton Tattoo Convention 2014