The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed

Culture / Featured

British photographer Alan Powdrill spent three years capturing people who have inked their entire bodies.

Slav Kandyba
May 17, 2018
Before and After image of a Woman Devoted To Full Body Tattoos
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill

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.

Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 1 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 2 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
“I love every inch of my skin but I love my back most because I’ve been waiting for 17 years to get it done, and its exactly how I wanted it.” Stefano, 33, London (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 4 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 3 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
“I love my tattoos, it’s a way of life and part of me. I’ll carry on getting them for as long as I can.”
Kenny Fry, 27, West Drayton (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 15 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 14 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
“My tattoos are part of who I am and I’ll always love my bodysuit now and when I’m 80. The love I get for what I look like is what it’s all about.” Victoria, 37, Coventry (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 10 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 11 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
“I was 14 and my mum said if I get another one she’d kick me out the house.” Simon Fitzpatrick, 45, Clacton-on-Sea (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 23 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 22 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
“I was 13 when I got my first one, my mum & dad didn’t find out till I was 18.” Jamal Khan, 24, Birmingham (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 20 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 21 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
“I was 51 when I started and my father was already dead and my mum didn’t say anything as she was in the early stages of dementia.” Graham, 58, Cleethorpes (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 6 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 5 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
“I love being different and every day I’m asked about them. Good tattoos aren’t cheap, cheap tattoos are not good.” Izzy, 48, Maidstone (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 19 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 18 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
“My mum wasn’t happy at all about the swallow on my hand so I said ‘Look, mum, it’s not like I’m on the street doing drugs or heroin.'” Alex Coates, 49, Whitby (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 12 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 13 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
“I was 17. I hid the first few from my parents for many years and by the time they found out they knew this was going to be my life.” Philip, 27, Southend-on-Sea (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 17 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Alan Powdrill Raw Portraits Of The People Devoted To Full Body Tattoos 16 The bodies of the heavily tattooed: exposed
“I love the fact I’m middle aged, have a professional job, am surrounded by straight people and I have ‘No Fucking Way’ tattoed on my chest.” Bill, 59, London (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Before image of a Man Devoted To Full Body Tattoos
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
After image of a Man Devoted To Full Body Tattoos
“I’ve become less precious about tattoos the more I get them. So hopefully I’ll only stop when I’m dead.” Andrew, 32, Highgate (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Before image of two men Devoted To Full Body Tattoos
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
After image of two men Devoted To Full Body Tattoos
“I was 14 and my mum tried to wash it off. I’ll stop whenever I die, everything I want to remember gets tattooed on me.” Stuart, 22, Bromley (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Before image of a woman Devoted To Full Body Tattoos
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
After image of a woman Devoted To Full Body Tattoos
“I don’t feel my opinion will change on my tattoos, I doubt I’ll have any regrets regardless of my age.” Lillianna Zuczek, 23, Hackney (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Before image of a Man with full body tattoos
Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill
Man with full body tattoos
“My first tattoo was at 13 and was a secret for 10 years. It’s a part of me and I’m never going to get old.” Patrick, 34, Brighton (Photo by Alan Powdrill | @AlanPowdrill)
Slav Kandyba
May 17, 2018