Chris has got me thinking a lot about tattoos lately and I’ve decided, if I get one at all, that it will probably be this pattern, relatively small, although I have not yet chosen a location. It’s the symbols you might see when looking through the viewfinder of an SLR camera.
I wanted to choose something photography related because, no matter what I end up doing with the rest of my life, photography will always be important to me. I like this because it’s simple and understated and also because it’s sort of abstract and unique. Search ‘photography tattoo’ and you’ll get hundreds of inked cameras, lenses, aperture rings, film canisters, etc., but as far as I can tell not a lot of people have one of these. I kind of like the idea that some people will have to ask what it is, while it will be immediately familiar to anyone who has worked with cameras.
I also like this for the meaning it has to me outside of its significance in photography. In an actual viewfinder, the marks are there to help the photographer compose and focus the shot before pressing the shutter button. As a tattoo, it’s a reminder to stop and think for a minute, to plan before I act, to look at the ‘whole picture’ (sorry). It’s a reminder to focus on the important things like good health and family and to let life’s difficulties fade into the bokeh. It’s a reminder to focus on taking one step at a time, to focus on completing the task at hand, and most importantly, to continue to focus on my goals/plans/dreams for my life, whether or not they include professional photography.
Some people warn against getting tattoos as a teenager or young adult because plans change and priorities are different by the time people get older. But I think youth is the only time anyone feels intensely enough about anything to get it tattooed on their skin, and that’s partly what this tattoo is about. If this has lost its significance to me by the time I’m older, it will be a signal not that I need to get it removed, but that I need to reevaluate the path I’m on. I don’t ever want to lose my enthusiasm for photography, and if I do, it will only mean that I’ve lost my focus.