Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Las Vegas Tattoo Scene

Las Vegas has several tattoo shops, some pretty high end, all across the city.  Many of the higher profile shops are located in the large casinos and shops tied to them.  My wife and I had eaten at a restaurant in the Miracle Mile Shops located at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas on Monday.  We had walked the mall and noticed Club Tattoo was located there.

I was mesmerized watching tattoo artists perform their work in front of a window into the mall.  They are totally oblivious to people watching because they are so busy concentrating on what they are doing.  I only had my wife's P&S camera with us so I went back late Tuesday night with my camera to see if I could take a few shots.

I did not want to shoot without asking the tattoo artist and the customer if it was okay to shoot a few while she worked on him.  They were both game and said so by nonchalantly shrugging okay.  They thought it was funny anyone would want to shoot them.

I used a Canon 28-105 3.5-4.5 lens and zoomed it all the way in.  I got as close to the glass window as possible and used only existing light in the shop and coming through the window from the mall side.  I didn't note the overexposure on his and her arms until I placed the shots into Lightroom 2.  Not much to do but try to go back and shoot some more.

Here is my take on what I got.  I tried some edgy processing on both.  Which do you like, if either, and why?  To me, tattoos are all about color.  I kind of like the B&W version though.  Shot handheld at 1/8 @ F8.0 and ISO 800 on Canon EOS 5D (original model).

Melissa and customer


  1. I like the subject and of the two images I prefer the black and white because there is a strange color cast on the artist's face in the color version. I don't know about the edginess, I think it distracts some from the tattoos, but if your subject was the people and not really the tattooing, then it works better. It does something weird with the wall behind them though. I wish it was a wider crop, just a little, to see more of the people, and of course without the blown highlights. Did you try another angle, maybe with just the artist's hands and more of the guy?

  2. I also prefer the black and white. The image has a surreal look about it and I think the black and white pushes it more in that direction.

    I agree with Cindi, there are lots of photos here and it all depends what you want to show: the artist doing her work, the tattoo itself, the person getting the tattoo, etc, etc. Nice job recognizing a interesting shot.

  3. After talking with Larry P. about this shot I realized there was nothing I could really do about the blown highlights in their arms. The artists use some bright lights so they can see what they are doing. Unless I had her turn it off I cannot capture that info in their arms.

    My one option is to try metering for the highlight (Larry's suggestion), shooting several exposures and maybe try HDR or a photomerge.

    I agree I could do a better job focusing in on one scene at a time. I really wanted to just show just enough of both of them and capture the process in this shot. I have to shoot through the glass, so I'm limited in how I can set the scene. I'll try a longer lens to focus in tighter on the next attempt.