Hand-Poked Tattoo Macro

I had a wonderful experience last night, getting my first hand-poked tattoo with the lovely Jessica of chANGELing in Edinburgh. I have a number of tattoos already, all done by talented artists using buzzy tattoo machines. I love the sound of a tattoo machine and I love the feeling of getting tattoos but I wanted to experience something different with this one.

The design I created is particularly meaningful for me as it represents the elemental chant, The earth, the air, the fire, the water, return, return, return, return and it’s my first tattoo with colour (all my others are blackwork), so the slower, equally intense but more gentle, traditional process of hand-poking (Jessica trained under a Maori artist), where the needle is pushed into the skin by hand rather than with a machine, felt very appropriate and very special.

I took the photos today, just over 12 hours since the tattoo was finished. It hasn’t healed yet so there’s lots of gorgeous texture that I wanted to capture with my macro lens before everything flattened. If you’ve had tattoos before, you’ll probably notice that there is much less scabbing than often appears following a machined tattoo.

Macro photograph of a section of a hand-poked tattoo representing the elements.

Macro photograph of a section of a hand-poked tattoo representing the elements.

Macro photograph of a section of a hand-poked tattoo representing the elements.

Macro photograph of a section of a hand-poked tattoo representing the elements.

Here’s a picture of the whole tattoo. I’m right-handed and the tattoo is on the top of my right wrist, so it was kind of awkward taking a photo using a dSLR held only in my left hand!

Close-up photograph of a hand-poked tattoo representing the elements.

Introducing My New Student

Remember last week when I was all excited about signing up to be a Senior Mentor on DeviantArt? I’m even more excited today because I have my first student! I’m going to be coaching Anand, AKA Clicketyclickclick, in portrait photography and am really looking forward to getting back into teaching cause it’s been a while but I’ve always really enjoyed it.

I’ve been kind of quiet in blog-world recently because Beltane Fire Society, the art performance charity I run online communications for, is gearing up for the Samhuinn Fire Festival in October and our Open Meeting (where people can come along and find out how to take part in the festival) is happening this weekend.

I’ll be back soon with new photos though. Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend :-)

5 Ways to Break Out of a Photography Rut

Do you ever feel the urge to take photos but find yourself stuck in a photography rut? It’s frustrating when your camera is ready for action but your muse is having a snooze. Fear not – here’s a list of quick and easy ways to break out of that rut and find inspiration again!

5 Ways to Break Out of a Photography Rut

Change up your style

Colour-lovers, go monochrome for a day. Portrait photographers, try your hand at shooting landscapes. You don’t have to be instantly great at it – it’s all about the experience. Making a concentrated effort to create images that look completely different from what you usually shoot or how you usually process and edit will not only help you to REALLY think about what you already do, but will also introduce you to whole new worlds. It might be difficult to go from taking pictures of animals to taking pictures of buildings, for example, but challenging yourself to think outside of your own photographic box can be just what you need to kick your muse into gear.

Let go of perfection

If you spend your days creating photos for other people (looking at you, wedding and commercial photographers), it’s easy to fall into the super important but restrictive habit of always needing everything to be pin-sharp at 100% magnification and appealing to the person or company you’re shooting for. If you’re feeling trapped by perfection, let it go…temporarily. I don’t mean intentionally become terrible at your job, ignore your clients’ needs or shoot pictures you know your audience will hate. I mean spend some quality time with your camera when the only person who matters is you. Get snap-happy and focus on enjoyment, not people-pleasing or self-criticism, even if the photos you take during these sessions never make it further than your own hard drive. Play is good for the soul!

Go mobile

If you shoot with a dSLR all the time, try setting your ‘big camera’ aside for a day (or a week) and embracing the camera you have in your pocket all the time – your mobile phone! The challenge of using less advanced tools can help shift you out of your rut by making you approach your subject differently. You could even try processing photos on your mobile device with an app like Snapseed or VSCO Cam. Simplicity can be beautiful!

Learn something new

Whether you’re a professional photographer with years of experience or a beginner who has firmly settled into your comfort zone (already!), there’s bound to be something you haven’t tried yet that excites you. You might want to play with a new toy, like a cheap and cheerful macro lens attachment or magnifying filter, or you could spend some time with your favourite editing software, getting to grips with a technique you’ve never tried before. If you’re a digital baby, why not give film a shot? The important thing here is finding pleasure in learning.

Photograph what you love

For a lot of people starting out in photography, taking photos of your family, friends, pets and home can be your first experience of creating images that you’re proud of. If you’re stuck in a photography rut, why not take it back to where you first found inspiration and point your camera at the people and things that bring a smile to your face every day?

How do you find inspiration for your photography? What’s your favourite way to break out of a photographic rut?

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I’m now a Senior Mentor on DeviantArt

Elvis Fucking Christ

I’m really excited today because I’ve joined the Senior Mentors team on DeviantArt!

The Seniors Mentoring Project dates back to 2003. It’s a project that helps members of DeviantArt to better themselves in the artwork that they produce. Senior Members of DA provide the community with informative blogs, critique and one-on-one mentoring to answer any questions inquisitive deviants may have, and help them improve their artwork all together.

I’ve volunteered to mentor artists in portrait and/or horror photography. If you’d like to find out more, head over to my DA journal post, Senior Mentor Profile for RockstarVanity.

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A Rainbow of Macro Photography

Macro photograph of the tips of coloured pencils arranged in a circular rainbow, shot with a Polaroid macro lens attachment on a Sony Alpha A550 dSLR camera

A rainbow of art, because what better way to be happy than with vibrant colours and macro photography? My life these days seems to involve a lot of finding art supplies I didn’t know I had so when I discovered a set of completely unused watercolour pencils in my photography and art-bits cupboard recently, I figured they deserved to be the subject of a pretty picture to make up for being forgotten about.

This random finding of stuff might give the impression that I live in a mansion full of rooms I don’t go into more than once a decade, but this really isn’t the case. I live in a small apartment with one other person. Neither of us are hoarders and we’re actually super organised with the stuff we do have, so it genuinely amazes me when I find something cool that I didn’t know I owned lurking in the back of a cupboard.

I took this photo with my Sony Alpha A550 and an 18-55mm lens with a Polaroid macro lens attachment under natural light from a window while one of the cats sat and glared at me for temporarily evicting him from his comfy seat on the windowsill.

Prints are available at http://www.deviantart.com/print/38545343/

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