The Great British Tattoo Show

June 10, 2015 Events 0 Comments

The same weekend as The Bike Shed, I covered The Great British Tattoo Show at Alexandra Palace. The day was a visual feast and I felt thoroughly spoilt to be shooting at two awesome London events in one weekend. Any event photographer will tell you, the more interesting the event and attendees, the more exciting your job gets. I don’t think they come more interesting than this show and I had immense fun walking around taking in all the sights.

As well as 250 leading tattooists in action, I witnessed some of the most strange and beautiful people strolling around, adorned with all manner of body art and piercings. This made it easy for me to resist the urge of getting myself booked in with one of the available artists and adding to my own ever-growing collection (sorry mum) – there was so much to snap I had no time to waste! From geometric masterpieces to intricate dot work, incredible portraiture to flowing watercolour, the breadth of styles and techniques was both fascinating and a true credit to the world of tattoo artists. Not forgetting the tattoo-ees, it never ceases to amaze me how much people can still muster a smile mid-ink session but this was the overall vibe of the day; everyone was so friendly which made the event a pleasure to shoot.

Lady tattooist with geometric back and arm tattoo, finishing a calf mandala Tattoo show photographers Beardy tattooist at work

Back of two girls, one with gothic back tattoo featuring angles and bats Amazing Jack Nicholson and joker portrait in progress Dot work calf mandala in progress Lady tattooing with beautiful skull and floral arm tattoo

This time I’d brought my 70-200mm which came in very handy given the longer lengths of the venue. There were times I had to step back to get subjects being tattooed into frame even with the shortest 70mm focal length, however in the main this lens was an absolute dream to work with. Because of the way it’s optics are put together (it utilises an 8-blade aperture), the background blur is lovely and somehow blows things up making subjects pop much more than my 50mm. I actually thought the lighting in Alexandra’s Great Hall would be worse than it was; I was pleasantly surprised to find more natural light conditions which made editing easier than anticipated.

There was so much going on, from live acoustic music to 50’s style hair and nail salons by Emily Rose Vintage. And so much to buy! Again, focusing on the photography stopped me from parting with a lot of cash. The apparel was ridiculously tempting; traders like RSI Apparel, Black Rose, and Slackjaw Apparel had way too much cool stuff to offer. As well as all this there were alternative fashion shows, main stage performances and burlesque artists, tattoo competitions, and gents grooming courtesy of Apothecary 87. You can find more of my photos here, and the full album here.

I can’t recommend this show enough, whether you’re into tattoos or a keen photographer. Having already attended the London Tattoo Convention last September I had high expectations, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Looking forward to 2016 already!

Back of guy with huge tattoo depicting slashed face Row of tattoo inks Beautiful lady with tattoos, long plaited hair and bindi

Emily Rose technician painting nails Artist singing acoustic session Ram skull Tattooist in action with cool rose / wing neck tattoo