Dan Kozma Bio & Interview
Commercial photographer specializing in portraiture; in-studio and environmental. I've shot it all at one point or another. Location specialist, from Scottish castles to frozen oil rig decks to Mexican beaches.
Do you remember the first time you saw a tattoo, and what your reaction was?
I was a kid, it was probably my friend's dad's tattoo. He was in the second world war, it was the tattoo all in his unit wore. I thought it was difficult to tell what it was, or what it said.
Do you have any tattoos yourself?
No tattoos, piercings or mods of any kind. It's not for me.
As a photographer, do you approach shooting a model with body art any differently than a model without tattoos?
The approach to any model is entirely dependent on the end usage of the image.
How did you approach the Tattoo Project weekend?
My approach to the tattoo weekend, or my concept, was to create some solid images for my portfolio.
After the fact, do you think your concept was successful?
I feel it was successful for me.
Did you get what you wanted from the weekend?
I knew there would be some great character faces coming in to be photographed. I did create a few strong images from the weekend.
Any tips for other photographers, for working with models who have tattoos?
First tip for other photographers; keep the end use of the images in mind!
Are tattoos and body modifications a problem in other work that you do? Do you ever have to shoot around tattoos or use cover-up make-up? Do you ever Photo Shop out tattoos?
I have worked projects where tattoos had to be covered/removed in post. As they become more mainstream, I suspect they will start showing up more often in images.
What is it about a particular tattoo or an individual with tattoos that you find interesting? Have you ever seen a tattoo, or a person with tattoos and said, "I have to shoot that!"?
I'm moved artistically by faces and personalities. Should tattoos play a part in who a person is, then I would definitely work them into the image. I've met people with tattoos and thought that I'd love to photograph them, it's never been about the tattoo itself.
Was there a particular tattoo or tattooed person who stands out in your memory from the Tattoo Project weekend?
My memory sucks. I recall participating...
As a photographer and visual artist, what defines a good tattoo in your eyes? What design and aesthetic qualities are you looking for?
A good tattoo is one that is well thought out, well designed and professionally executed. If it looks like someone drew on you with a Bic pen, I think someone missed the mark.
What would be your advice to someone who wants a great photo that shows their body art to its best advantage?
Anyone looking for a great photo should do their homework. Find a photographer who knows lighting. Pointing a camera doesn't make anyone a 'photographer'.
What is the biggest difference between shooting editorial work - say for someone like Bob Baxter at Skin & Ink - and working in a studio?
I don't get this question. Editorial work is never shot in a studio?
Any tips for taking good photos at tattoo conventions?
I’ve never shot a tattoo convention. My first thought was set up a few lights and a backdrop, invite the well inked in for a few frames.
What do you think of the growing numbers of celebrities and models who have tattoos?
As I'd stated, getting inked is becoming more and more mainstream, it's no surprise at all that some celebrities would follow suit. Whatever blows up your skirt...
What tips would you give to the home photographer, tattoo enthusiast or tattoo artist who wants to take a great photograph of a tattoo?
The biggest tip for taking great photos; LEARN ABOUT LIGHT. Tips for amateurs; I would know where to start. Study light.
What would be your dream tattoo photography assignment?
My dream tattoo assignment? 6 figures.
Was there any one thing in particular about participating the the Tattoo Project weekend that surprised you or that stands out as a truly memorable moment?
The professionalism of everyone involved was exemplary. I was glad to be a part of it all.