Tattoos – art and soul

Tattoos – art and soul

From yellow submarines to twitter birds, Playboy bunnies to tribals, stylishly written names to something I would call copy text, I have photographed all of this as tattoos, already. But there's a reason why I prefer to shoot women without inked skin.


For some the body of the woman is a canvas. Others claim, their photographs capture the soul of a person. I believe this gets confused with expressing emotions. Doesn't it?

At least, I have no idea what is meant when a world-famous photographer claims, his portraits are stripping down the very soul of a woman who therefore is becoming more nude than naked in the pictures. Do you agree with me that this sounds scary? I asked myself, what my attitude towards this is.

And I came to the conclusion that I don't want to cross the line. Call me superficial, but I prefer to showcase a beautiful naked body rather than the inner life of a person. This is too intimate for me. It's private and I am not all-knowing. Of course, I can display a happy woman in a photo. I can also fake emotions like sensuality. And I try to do this as believable as I can. But what you see is not the soul. I am telling a story. It's all about entertainment, only.

Somethinglicious: Small tattoos don't disturb me much.

Now, what has this to do with tattoos, you might ask. The answer is simple: Tattoos draw a lot of attention. Especially when there are words written on a human body, the first thing a viewer tries to do is to read the text. But even with symbols or pictures tattooed, they strike the attention. For me, this makes it much harder to create a believable story, to help my audience dive into a scene. The tattoos are just between us. They are in the way. Those little troublemakers.

And it's getting even more complicated when I want to mirror a photograph. When working for magazines or books, you often think in spread pages: What image goes on the left side, what photo suits on the right side? They both interact and sometimes, it's necessary to mirror an image to intensify the play between those two pictures.

The famous lizard of Zoi. Works like a trademark, I have to admit.

But with a tattoo, you can't mirror the picture. Everyone sees this directly. Post-processing would get unmasked at one snap when the viewer looks at a series of images.

Tattoos are something very personal. If not made due to a lost bet (I feel pity for those), there is a strong connection between the inked art and the person wearing it. I totally respect that and fully understand it.

In case you wonder why I write a blogpost about tattoos at all, the reason simply is that in 2016, I only had three girls without tattoos in front of my lens. It is almost impossible to find girls who are not inked, these days. Crazy, isn't it?

I'm in favour of diversity, e.g. when working on my next book, so I am seeking more girls without tattoos these days.

Please, don't get me wrong. This is important to me. I don't have anything against tattooed people. Only for my own stories, I prefer to be the one who's telling the story – not the tattoo.