Tattoos are now more mainstream than ever—not just marks of renegades on the fringes of society. To drive this idea home, British portrait photographer Alan Powdrill spent three years shooting everyday Brits with extensive body art.
The result is one stunning collection of visuals. Alan Powdrill titled the project ‘Covered,’ yet, ironically, half of the photos included find his subjects posing nude. The juxtaposition of the men and women—clothed and unclothed—often shows dramatic contrast, challenging the viewer to think about what may lie beneath a person’s clothes.
Powdrill photographed and interviewed a total of 40 people for the project. One of his most memorable subjects is Victoria Clarke, who is working on her third full-body suit of tattoos, front and back. She gets her tattoos lasered off, only to have new ones done over them.
“As a portrait photographer I’ve always been intrigued by tattoos and the idea of someone making such a bold and permanent statement on their skin,” Powdrill said. “To me, they seem brave, confident and rebellious, especially those that go the extra mile.”
Despite the many different lives led by his subjects, Powdrill has found some commonalities among ink lovers. “I think the top reasons were to show their individuality, a sense of rebellion and mainly passion for their body art and the people who created it,” Powdrill tells Herb.
Powdrill’s inspiration for ‘Covered’ came from fashion photography. He considers himself a fan of Philip-Lorca diCordia and Todd Hido. Helmut Newton’s famous series depicting clothed and naked models in the same poses also inspired his work.
Ultimately, Powdrill hoped to reveal—through his photos—who these people really are by revealing the tattoos central to their identities. Powdrill hopes to expand ‘Covered’ beyond England, shooting the inked around the world. He is tattoo-free, although if his Kickstarter campaign succeeds, he may join the club. The campaign seeks to turn ‘Covered’ into a high-quality book.