As photographers, when creating images, we are constantly put into situations where we need to adapt to surroundings as quickly as possible to get the best possible results.

We must find the light source, know our camera settings, have an idea of the direction we want to shoot, compose our image, and shoot.

Recently I was at Hope Gallery, a tattoo shop in New Haven, CT getting some work done on my arm when I ran into Joe Capobianco. Joe is a well-known tattoo artist around the world and also the founder/owner of the shop.

I asked Joe if I could pop into his session for a few minutes to take some photos. He agreed, so I headed over to his tattooing room at the end of my tattoo session with Eric Merrill. I was at the door, asked Joe again if it was cool, and he said sure, but he was wrapping up in about 3 minutes.

Wow! There was definitely not a lot of time. So I acted quickly, locked in on the lighting source which was just a few led lights above Joe's head, another smaller lamp pointed a little away from him, and a long neon overhead (see photo at bottom of post), set my camera to position I knew would be "close" in exposure (all manual), and started shooting.

I began photographing Joe quickly, making just a couple of adjustments in my camera settings, as well as finding unique angles for a good looking composition. I was able to get low, shoot a little in an upward position, work my way into a spot between his art references for the tattoo and the subjects arm to capture the photo you see below.

It's awesome to be put into challenging situations while shooting. Especially when it's documenting someone or some thing in which you have absolutely no control over. I wasn't going to ask Joe to move a certain way or look a certain a way. This is a complete candid portrait of Joe creating his own art within his own element.

The portrait below was photographed with a Fujifilm X-T2 with the Fujifilm XF23mmF2 R WR lens. I did not use any external lighting, just the given light from the room. My final camera setting for this image are: ISO 1600, f/2.0, 1/500 sec. The editing was done all in Adobe Lightroom CC.

Whether you're a professional photographer, amateur photographer, or just someone who likes to take photos, I strongly urge you to put yourself into unfamiliar situations like this to expand your craft even more. Push yourself, it will really help you in learning more about camera settings, using the given light, and make educated decisions on making sure you get the best image possible. Prior to shooting though, I also suggest making sure you know the ins and outs of your camera. It's capabilities, what all the buttons do, while becoming familiar with your lens choices.

According to the time stamps of all the images I captured, the entire shoot ended up being a total of 1 minute 17 seconds long and just 9 photos. The first photo I photographed is the black and white image at the bottom of the post, while the final photo I took is the image right below this text. Somewhere in between, the banner image at the top of this post was also captured.

Remember, it doesn't matter how much time you have to shoot, how little space you have to work, or what gear you have. Just know what you're working with, practice, and go in full steam ahead!

Joe's tattoo room - notice the given light placements.

Comments

  1. Great portraits. They show a sense of place and convey emotion. Well done! Your write-up of the experience was interesting, too. Love that you were able to capture these shots in such a short time and do it well.

  2. I've never been in nor do I think I will ever set foot in a tattoo parlor. It's just not my thing. I do like your website layout. I like the lamp and Joe's mohawk angling together. This first thing I saw in the shot was his determined and concentrated face. I like how you painted your black and white image. I like that you captured all the artwork on the walls while the man lay horizontally looking up.

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