Pixie contacted me about taking part in the shoot and as she lived in Whanganui we arranged for me to shoot her on the way back from the Photographic conference in Stratford.
The original intention had been to shoot Pixie on the same backdrop as used in the previous shoot so that was packed in the car. But when I arrived at her place that completely changed. She lived in this old villa that was in original condition. The kitchen in particular had an amazing retro feel to it that I knew that I had to shoot her there.
That posed some issues as it was not very large and I was trying to light is using my seven foot umbrella. We managed though. The one issue with using an actual location was that I was getting reflections on the windows from the umbrella.
This was solved using the double tap approach. Basically you take two images in succession. The second one goes off without flash but is such a short duration behind the first that the subject tends not to have moved. You then combine the two images in Photoshop and you use the non-flashed image as the replacement for the windows.
Larissa is a tattoo artist herself and when she learned of the project wanted to be involved. When we initially met she was about to have more work done, so we agreed to defer the shoot to allow for this. I ended up shooting her in the same session as Les so it incorporated the same lighting arrangement.
Larissa was a lot more shier than Les so I had to deal with clothing getting in the way of the tatts. You could clearly see how the work was going to evolve over the next year as it was filled in. Unfortunately she moved to Auckland just after the shoot so that opportunity is not available.
When I started planning the Tattoo project I had always envisaged that the starting and ending images in the set would be of traditional Maori moko’s. For my overseas visitors these are tradition tattoos practiced by the original settlers in New Zealand called Maoris. (you can read all about them here on Wikipedia)
Therefore when I saw Les sitting in Lampton Square eating his lunch I managed to find the courage to go an ask him to be part of the project.
Having a full face moko certainly drew attention to Les and he explained to me the significance of it to him. For Maori the tattooing had much more significance than simple body art.
He also said that it was often a conversation starter and he was used to be approached, although people were sometimes hesitant. Part of that is that while tattoos in New Zealand is fairly common generally it only those with criminal connection that cover their faces. Les has tattoos that extend over pretty much over his entire body.
Lighting for the shoot was based on a setup that I learned from Chris Knight. My seven foot umbrella was positioned behind me to fill the details in the shadow and the main accent light was provided by a beauty dish positioned camera right and about 45 degree angle from the subject.