Benny Migliorino’s project, Archival Ink, began some seven years ago when he photographed the tattoos of a singer in a hard rock band. “The attraction,” he says, “was that this art was different from any other because it’s going to be with them, on them, for the rest of their lives.”
Intrigued by the commitment his subjects were making, he soon began to ask about the reasons for and the significance of the tattoos. Now, as the collection of images grows and begins to attract interest, he asks more questions and takes written notes.
Because of the personal nature of the subject, Benny’s approach is serious and respectful. “It was especially difficult to approach a woman and ask her to pose,” he says, “but once I was able to photograph one woman, other women saw that photo and it made a difference.”
He credits Facebook with helping quite a bit. “I post images and people see them and see my business logo, and they get back to me.”
Benny shoots most of his tattoo images in the studio, only a few on location. The early photographs were taken by available light or with studio strobes or continuous light setups, but lately he’s come to rely on SB-700 and SB-800 Speedlights in a FourSquare softbox. “The SB Speedlights are a lot easier to travel with,” he says, “and using them makes for sharper images of the tattoos.” The Nikon D-SLRs he’s used include the D70, D200, D2X, D3 and, currently, a D700.
His goal is a self-published book and, ideally, an exhibit of the photographs. Should there be the hoped-for exhibit, Benny knows the stories his subjects tell about their tattoos will be inextricable parts of the display, just as the tattoos are the indelible stories his subjects have chosen to be permanent parts of themselves.