All photos © Alex MacNaughton. Above: Justin O’Grady, age 21.
Alex MacNaughton decided to create his new book London Tattoos (Prestel), because he felt previous books on tattoos were overly stylized and told readers very little about the people who wore the artwork. “Quite often the people bearing the tattoos couldn’t be recognized as individuals,” MacNaughton says. London Tattoos on the other hand, was shot and presented in a clean, minimalist style, and the first photograph of each subject presented in the book is pulled back, showing them in their everyday clothing, which often hides their elaborate body art. MacNaughton also includes several details showing the tattoos close-up, and short quotes from subjects about their tattoos, what they mean to them, and what they think about the culture surrounding tattoos, provide further background.
To create the book, MacNaughton’s studio build a Web site where potential subjects could register and upload photos. To draw people to the site, he and his team printed up 10,000 postcards and handed them out at clubs. Then he booked a studio in Central London for 7 straight Saturdays, and spent an hour with each subject. MacNaughton and “lighting guru” Robert Radmall lit the set and subjects using three Profoto Pro 8 Air 2400J packs, six heads and one Profoto 5′ Octa softbox. MacNaughton used a Nikon D3 and an 85mm lens for most of the shots. He used a 24-70mm lens for details.
Grace Neutral, age 22. Neutral’s image (left) is on the cover of the book.
Louise Elizabeth Fury, age 33.
Professor Richard Sawdon Smith, age 47. Sawdon Smith is head of the arts and media department at London South Bank University.
Luki Gold, age 27.
Alice Temple, age 43.
Justin O’Grady, age 21.
Ness Watson, age 35.
Dylan Ross, age 40.
Mistress Jezabel, age 28.