Jan 142012

My Musical Ink book project is in the home stretch. Musical Ink is a collection of black & white infrared portraits of musicians and their tattoos. Looking back, it seems like I started working on this forever ago.

After nailing down the technical quirks of shooting portraits in infrared with my good friend Christian DeArmond, the next subjects I shot were Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith in the spring of 2008 in a suite at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. Now, three years, many repeat trips to cities including Los Angeles, New York & Atlanta and setting up countless make-shift studios backstage, in hotel rooms, homes, recording studios and management offices later, Musical Ink is almost a wrap.

Musical Ink came from a combination of my love for music, a long-time interest in the art of tattoos and some really cool portraits that photographer Tom Dahlin had shot of some Minnesota Timberwolves players in 2006. He shot them in infrared and I put that idea in my ‘I might use that some day’ file.

The main thing that makes this project unique is the use of an infrared-converted Nikon D2X camera body. I purchased a special filter from LifePixel and had them make the swap for me. My D2X now shoots infrared full time.

The difference between infrared and a regular color image can easily be seen in these two images of Atlanta singer Bernadette Seacrest. Bernadette is an awesome lady and we spent well over an hour shooting at her home (which is very rare for this project; I usually get about 5 minutes), and then we went out for some killer barbeque. Both of these images were made under identical conditions.  Same lighting, same dress, same everything.  The only difference is the camera; the color image was made using a standard Nikon D3, the black and white using the infrared D2X.  The skin takes on a very ethereal glow and the tattoos are very well defined which is no small part of what I’m trying to accomplish with this book.

I’ve got less than six months before my July 1st deadline and a couple more trips are pending; at least one more to LA, New York and possibly one to Florida. Many more musicians will see my camera-obscured face before I’m done, but the book should be on shelves this fall.

More info can be seen on the Musical Ink web site and you can follow the Musical Ink Facebook Page for updates on the book’s progress.