Mark Leaver is a third year student studying commercial photography at the Arts University Bournemouth. Portraits are his thing. And his photography project has been created to show the beauty of facial tattoos and dispel some of the myths surrounding them.
“Facial tattoos have a lot of taboos around them, due to their confrontational nature,” says Mark Leaver on why he started this project. “Unfortunately none of these views are positive, facial tattoos are associated with suicide rates, unemployment, depression and anti-social behaviour. And I can happily report that’s all dated buillshit”.
“Tattoos have recently become incredibly popular and are more accepted by society than ever before. There are many reasons for this, one being their endorsement through celebrity culture. There are countless people with tattooed sleeves and other bits and pieces but that was too broad and mainstream to base a project around. What makes facial tattoos so distinctive is that they are still confrontational, there’s no hiding them. There are only a select few people who make that kind of commitment and it was those people that I wanted to meet and photograph,” says Mark Leaver, about his project.
Mark interviewed each of the subjects of this portrait photographs, to find out a little more about them. These interviews have not yet been published.
“I feel that with documentary work it’s an oversight not to talk to the people being photographed, especially if they are posed portraits,” says Mark. “Candid work isn’t my thing. I try to meet people and set up a portrait in a way that naturally and authentically reveals the person’s character. I prefer the shoots where I get to know the subject a bit better because everyone has interesting stories and backgrounds. Obviously, there are some things that are impossible to communicate with an image, so the text adds to the portrait without changing it. During Touka Voodoo’s interview he told me he had a sex change operation to become a man and that the tattooing on his face, which he did in the mirror himself, represented both his masculinity and femininity.”
A full interview with Mark, can be viewed at Huck magazine. And his work can viewed on his website, www.mdleaver.com.
Also look out for issue #7 of Things&Ink, which will feature brand new portraits and accompanying interviews from this project.
All photographs by Mark Leaver, www.mdleaver.com, www.facebook.com/mdleaverphotography