Allowing them to see themselves beyond the tattoos
“For the last couple years, I’ve been working on a project about the effect that tattoos have on ex-gang members: how we as a society judge them and also how they judge themselves,” says Steven Burton, the creator of the provocative photo series “Skin Deep.”
“The concept behind this book is really simple. It’s to take portraits of heavily-tattooed people who are trying to escape gangs or left the gangs, continued” Steven. He took their photos and digitally removed their tattoos to show them what they would look like if they had never gotten extensive ink that kept them from getting jobs or leading normal lives.
Creating Empathy From Fear
As far as an audience goes, Steven wants to create “empathy and understanding” from people who would otherwise fear these men just because of their facial and neck tattoos.
Many of them tattooed men have stories about how their tattoos have affected their lives. One man said, “It will be awkward because I’ll sit down on the bus and nobody will want to sit next to me. They’d rather stand up than sit next to me.”
Photographer Steven Burton decided to help out men trying to leave dangerous gangs by letting them see themselves without their old gang ink.