UK photographer on capturing extensive body art in exclusive interview

November 4, 2015

Featured today is photographer and client @alanpowdrill, whose exhibition ‘COVERED’ will be launching next Wednesday! COVERED launches Wed 11 November at MOTHER, London, from 6.30pm. Please RSVP for the private view to



HI Alan. First of all, please introduce yourself!

Hi, I’m Alan Powdrill, a London based photographer originally from Nottingham, via Edinburgh where I was at university.

How did you get into photography?

Honestly, a friend of mine found a credit card about 30 years ago, went shopping and bought me a camera. I’ve been addicted ever since, especially after college, working on a cruise ship and then assisting for 5 years.


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How did this project come about? What inspired the idea?

For a while I wanted to document the UK explosion in popularity of ‘getting inked’ in the UK but wasn’t sure of an angle or way to photograph this in a way not seen before. The usual tattoo photographs are often very glamour studio orientated and fairly uninspiring, focusing more on the tattoos rather than the person wearing them.  I was looking one day at the famous Helmut Newton fashion shot of the women in the studio with and without clothes and thought this could be a way to illustrate how our views of someone are completely affected when we can’t see their skin beneath.  I then set about finding the subjects and rather than just show their ink, I made portraits of them in their surroundings where they lived.

Do you have any tattoos yourself? If not, why not or do you plan on getting any?

I am ink free my self but have always been intrigued by people who make such permanent marks on their bodies. Such statements seem very powerful to me.  One day I hope to make such a statement but like a lot of people I’m not sure what mark to make and where.  For many of the people I photographed, getting tattooed was a complete way of life and they seemed to have a very similar mentality to surfers or motor bikers, very driven and in the zone of a certain lifestyle.  Whether this is just a fashion thing remains to be seen.

Finally, what inspires you?

I’m inspired by all good photography of many different genres, but especially by the work of William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld and Philip Lorca diCorcia.


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