Photo project: Jaw’s World of Ink

April 10, 2010

This was actually supposed to become a book…

In January 2009 I started a new project that with the (draft) name “Singapore Ink”. The background was a friendship with an old dive buddy of my wife’s who is running a tattoo shop in Singapore’s “Far East Plaza Shopping Mall”. ‘Jaws’, as he is known, is one of the most original and nicest people I know in Singapore. At times he looks a bit like a character from a Hong Kong gangster movie. He is tattooed all over his body and with his long hair and kinky beard he definitely stands out in a place like Singapore. Moreover, apart from having been a professional diver, fish farm owner etc., he is an excellent tattoo artist with a special reputation in town. This is what I wanted to portrait in my project.

Well, the book never materialized. But I managed to produce a number of images that I am quite happy with. And despite the fact that it not (yet) going to be published on paper, at least I can show parts of it online and I hope some people will appreciate it.

Even though the project was about Jaws the artist, the series of pictures was neither supposed to be about tattoos nor about Jaws as a person. What I wanted to portrait was the workshop and the process involved when creating tattoos. Tattoo shops have a special atmosphere. People walk inside with a certain attitude that makes them different from retailers that sell fashion, or for example hair dressers. Tattoos are something permanent and you put a lost of trust in the person who is going to work on your skin and change it forever. So who are these people and what makes us feel comfortable in their place?
The series starts with a number of images that show the daily routine in the shop. These black and white pictures are more like an introduction and were shot on 35mm film.

After the introduction, i.e text plus black and white images for illustration purposes, the ‘book’ starts with the main series of color ‘plates’. These were taken on 120 film with a Hasselblad 500CM and a Pentax 67 camera. The tattoo room was very small which made taking pictures everything but easy. For many angles I could not use my tripod since I was climbing onto chairs, crawling on the floor, or squeezing behind tattoo equipment. The lighting also brought a number of challenges. I used ASA 400 slide film which made it possible to shoot without tripod, but also lead to a green cast due to the existing working lights. I learned to appreciate the mood and atmosphere that came with it, though!


8 Responses to “Photo project: Jaw’s World of Ink”

  1. Tom Says:

    hey Stefan, schoen mal was von deinem Projekt zu sehen; gute Bilder!
    bleib dran – vielleicht wird’s ja noch was mit dem Buch…
    und ansonsten lernt man dabei sicher jede Menge interessanter Leute kennen 😉

    P.S: Gruesse auch an Jaws!

  2. Joern Stubbe Says:

    Hallo Stefan,

    sehr interessante Serie! D.h. ich denke, du kannst eigentlich 2 Serien daraus machen, da die oben gezeigten S/W und Farbfotos gut auch separat zu präsentieren wären.

    Beste Grüße!

  3. Vielen Dank!
    Joern, es sind eigentlich auch zwei Serien, die aber zwei Teile des Projektes abdecken sollten. ich habe noch viel mehr Bilder, will aber nicht alles hier zeigen.

  4. flashpixs Says:

    Great work here. 🙂
    The green cast provides a nice mood to the pictures.

  5. Yom Says:

    Splendid !

  6. gioia Says:

    how can i get in touch with u to get an appointment!
    im interested in gettin’a tattoo, but wont be long in singapore, can u please get in touch with me when u get this!

    many thanks

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