First steps

Today was our first time actually following through with our project and starting it. We had a rough idea of our concept and wanted to test it and see how it would work in real life. The idea was to investigate how people attach meaning – or not – to tattoos and how the design and process contribute to that. We contacted two tattoo artists, Bianka Nedbal and Peter Nádor, who coincidentally had international clients on the same day. Bianka is a young artist, very friendly and immediately agreed to help us. Peter is much older and has a very different idea of tattoo, Peter sees it as an art and frequently criticises people who copy other artists. Although Bianka also only tattoos her own art, she is not so outspoken as Peter. We met on Saturday with two of their clients to interview them and film the tattooing process. Peter had an American client, Bryce, who was get a cup of coffee tattooed with a skull on top. He said he was getting it because he will never stop loving coffee. Bianka’s client, Martin, had a much different story, his wife almost had a miscarriage and receive a message during a dream, from a hummingbird, saying everything would be alright and it was. This is exactly what we’re trying to show in the project.

There were many technical challenges, mostly because it was our first time ever doing something like that. Positioning the camera, not wanting to intrude too much, getting the light right, the angle and so on. After the first interview with peters client, we had some time to go to the university and check what we had. We were unhappy about the angle of the interview, the light, and realised we could have done many things differently. All tattoo parlours have very good direct light that we could have just used and we didn’t. So we made a mental note to do that on the next appointment. I was also extremely worried that I had forgotten to check the configuration on the camera and that it had filmed in the incorrect way, I did not have my notes with me, but luckily when we went to university I accessed the notes and everything was ok. That was a relief.

This is Bryce. After the interview, while reviewing it, we noticed the camera was not positioned on eye level, that the background did not have enough depth, and it also does not seem particularly straight. Hopefully we will be able to still use it, but these were already valuable lessons we learned from our first try.

With Bianka’s client, Martin, we were already a bit more aware of the challenges we might face, so we took some more time to find the perfect place to film him. I was happy about it, because it was a well lit place, with many tattoo designs on the background and it provided for a much more interesting location and angle than the previous one. The one concern about Bianka’s studio was the sound, since there were other people talking, tattooing, and music playing. However, when we looked at it again, we realised the camera was place above eye level.

Both the tattoos lasted for a very long time, so we could check the footage in between locations and rethink, see if there were any questions we did not ask, or if there was any shots we needed to redo. I realised we did not get Peter’s client on camera explaining the reason behind the current tattoo he was getting, only his previous ones. So I knew I had to get that when we went back to Peters studio later that day to film the final result of the tattoo. We thought it was relevant to get the final result on camera because we want to show the whole process, and particularly because we want to hear what the clients think about their new design. We also realised that, during the interviews we were positioning the camera either too high or too low, but never on eye level, so that was a bit annoying, but it is all part of the learning process.

The third, and last, interview of the day was the one that made me the happiest in relation to all the aspects that we had initially felt bad about. We interviewed Peter Nádor, and managed to use his tattoo lights to make the lighting ideal, position him in a place with depth and that showed his art pieces and place the camera at eye level. I felt like it was a very productive day and we learned quite a lot throughout this whole process. We are very concerned that we haven’t gotten any feedback on our camera exercises and that maybe we are doing something wrong, but I think that going through this showed me that regardless of feedback and study, the only way to actually learn is to get started and, with the theory in mind, we can more easily identify our mistakes and correct them. Hopefully we’ll be able to use a lot of the material we shot today.

This is the interview with Peter. He is positioned at eye level, there is a lot of depth, we can see his paintings on the back, the tattoo ink, and so on. I think we finally understood how to do this.

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