For his latest project “Skin Deep”, photographer Steven Burton captured powerful portraits of heavily tattooed ex-gang members and digitally removed their tattooes using photoshop. “The concept came to me when I watched the homeboys going through the tattoo removal process,” Steven says. He spent two years and over 400 hours in Photoshop removing tattoos that covered former LA gang members. “When I started Skin Deep I had a simple concept: take portraits of heavily tattooed ex-gang members and remove the tattoos using digital re-touching to create before and after portraits,” Steven says on his Kickstarter page. “Most of the homeboys/girls hadn’t seen themselves without tattoos for decades, so during the interviews, I presented the images. There was a deep emotional response by the subjects.“
The photographer was inspired to launch his “Skin Deep” photo project after seeing the documentary G-Dog about the work of Father Greg Boyle.
“These images inspire personal insight from the subjects and elicit questions of how we as a society perceive and judge those with tattoos and how this stigma goes so far as to influence these former gang member’s perception of themselves.“