Lighting Setup Tattoo Studio

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c h u n k
c h u n k Senior Member • Posts: 1,757
Lighting Setup Tattoo Studio

Moved from people and portraits:

Ive been doing all the photography for a well established tattoo shop by me. Honestly, the best group of people to work with - both the artists and their clients. But obviously its not practical, or in everyones best interest to have me drive there after every tattoo gets finished - and photos are a str8 up necessity for the shop and individual artists. I am trying to help them with a setup so they can take good photos when they finish a tattoo. They need them for their portfolios, all social media, some of the work gets put in tattoo magazines, etc etc., though I will probably continue shooting larger pieces they want published.

When I shot tattoos there (they threw a party to get a lot of clients there at same time), I used a large black seamless, a couple softboxes, a 60" reflector, and a 65" umbrellabox, 2 cameras, a 100mm macro, a 24-70, a 70-200... Obv not all at once - I switched them around based on the shot. There were little 4" tattoos and people tattooed from foot to neck and everything in between. My point is that, that is obviously not something I could teach them overnight, nor something they want to dedicate the space to, nor invest in.

****Its all about lighting and will need to be constant light too.***

1)We need a setup they can keep setup or setup in seconds.

2)This will mostly be tattoos ranging from 6 inches all the way to full back pieces.

3) most of them will be using cell phone cameras, though one does own a DSLR.

4) The spot they want to do it in is only like 4 feet wide. There is space around it, but would not be able to just leave light stands etc out of that area. Rigging from ceiling is possible.

5) will need to be budget friendly. Its a tattoo shop and not a photo studio. DIY likely.

6) Needs to be as close to "dummy proof" as possible. I dont mean dummy literally - the artists are really smart and obviously knowing how to paint/draw/tattoo gives some lessons on how light behaves, but they arent photographers and havent invested hours in understanding light quality, light direction, light source size relative to subject etc etc etc.

**I need help in determining what to buy for the constant lights that is cheap but good enough and will light a diffuser large enough***

I get around with lighting using flash and strobes, but Im far from an expert. And i know almost nothing about constant lights (meaning the products - I know my experience with flash will help tremendously in the setup).

i was thinking of using scrims or maybe a scrim and V flat. The primary issue has been glare. There is usually a thin layer of like vaseline applied to the tattoo. Not so much that it looks wet, but enough that it adds to specular highlight issues. So Im guessing a large diffuser, like a scrim is necessary. They tried to rig 2 small (like 20") softboxes to the ceiling with constant bulbs inside (its like a cowboy studios or Limo cheap kit). But the diffusion on those softboxes is poor and the light power is barely enough.

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Some of my photos here: https://flic.kr/ps/2i6XL3
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