This morning, I came across an interesting profile in Wired, which looks at portrait photography of Dina Litovsky, specifically, the 40 people she captured getting tattooed at the NYC Tattoo Convention this past June and the Empire State Tattoo Expo (also in Manhattan) last month. Litovsky's focus was not documenting the shows or the tattoos, but the collectors' experience, and their expression of that experience, when getting work done. Wired explains:
Surrounded by the sound of buzzing guns, Litovsky wanders around until someone catches her eye. She chooses subjects based on their facial expressions and body language, and any interesting props they use to distract themselves from what is occasionally a painful procedure. Some people thumb through their smartphone. Others chew gum or suck on lollipops to stave off nausea. "Many subjects go into almost a trance state, a mental zone where the pain sensation transforms into an emotionally euphoric state," she says.
As noted in the article, Litovsky shoots with a flash, "which captures her subjects and nothing more," making them look like studio shots. I'm just wondering how the artists felt about flash going off while they're trying to work. Well, maybe she wasn't in their faces.
Another interesting mention in the article is Litovsky's earlier work, Ink Girls, which are portraits of tattooed women, and the judgments viewers had of the women in her photos. She told Wired: "I saw how easy it was to stereotype certain types of tattoos and attribute character traits and social standing to the people that have them. [...] In a way, a traditional portrait of an individual with tattoos can be a dead end. We understand less, not more about the person."
Read more about her work, and see additional photos in Wired and on Litovsky's website.