How To How to Take a Good Clean Picture of Your Tattoo

Taking a good, clean picture of your tattoo doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are a lot of common mistakes people make that result in bad quality photos. Here’s some tips on taking a shot of your tattoo that does the artist’s work justice.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 10 – 15 Minutes

Here’s How:

  1. Start with a clean, dry tattoo. Brand new tattoos that are still seeping blood or are covered with ointment are not going to produce a good photograph.
  2. Use a decent camera. Webcams and low quality digital cameras just don’t take good pictures. A $10 disposable 35mm point-and-shoot will produce better results than a webcam.
  3. Get a friend to help. Don’t try to take pictures of your own tattoos. You really can’t get a good angle or proper distance from it when you’re trying to reach around to photograph your own body.
  4. Proper lighting is important. For best results, go outside. That way you won’t need to use flash and the natural light will produce the best color results. If you must be indoors, get near a window or under a bright (but not harsh) light source. Try to avoid having to use flash, which tends to cause glare.
  5. Don’t get too close. Unless you have a macro function on your camera/lens, getting close to your tattoo will only result in a blurry image. With a typical point-and-shoot, it is recommended that you are at least 2-3 feet away from your subject. Photos can be scanned to create larger, high resolution photos later for a better closeup of the tattoo.
  6. Hold still! Shaking the camera or moving it before it has completed taking the capture will result in a blurred image. Hold still and keep still until the camera has completed taking the photo. This is especially important with some digital cameras, which tend to have a slower shutter speed.
  7. Take several pictures. Don’t just snap one shot and be done with it. Move around, try different angles, different light sources, with flash, without flash, different distances, etc. The more pictures you take, the better your odds are that you’ll end up with at least one really great shot.
  8. Use a photo editor for web images. Once you have a decent shot, you can enhance or improve the capture with a photo editing program. You can zoom in on the tattoo, crop out the background, enhance the colors, sharpen the image and make other adjustments. But be sure not to make so many adjustments that you reduce the original quality.


  1. Although ointment can cause glare, an older tattoo may look muted if it is too dry. Apply a small amount of lotion and rub it in thoroughly to bring out the colors of your tattoo. Remove any excess lotion, though, to prevent any glare.
  2. Digital cameras have an advantage over film cameras because you can preview your results on the LCD screen. But even digital cameras need to be good quality – I recommend no less than a 5 megapixel camera.
  3. If you have glare issues, applying a thin layer of cosmetic powder can help to reduce light reflection from the tattoo.
  4. Blurry images are caused by moving the camera or being too close to the subject. Grainy images are caused by poor quality cameras or improper lighting. Glared pictures are caused by ointment on the tattoo or a harsh light source. Dark photos are caused by improper lighting or being too close to the subject.

What You Need:

  • A tattoo to take a picture of
  • A camera
  • A friend to take the pictures if the tattoo is your own
  • A little time and patience

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