August 23, 2023
Photography and story by Tony Reddrop
Introduction by Melanie Meggs
We are incredibly fortunate to live in a world full of stories - fascinating tales of people, places and passions that create the ever-evolving tapestry of our lives. And while some stories pass by in the blink of an eye, others remain with us for a lifetime.
Meet Tony Reddrop, a photographer whose creative journey knows no boundaries. Raised in Melbourne, Australia, Tony has made New Zealand his home for the past 14 years. Passionate about photography, Tony is dedicated to exploring and capturing the stories of those around him.
Tony has dedicated himself to exploring and capturing the people and places within his own environment - a small city called Palmerston North in New Zealand’s lower north island. He is an artist who is always on the lookout for meaningful projects - works that challenge us to look further into the story that lies behind the images. From creating powerful street portraits to documenting a small Greek Orthodox community for two years, Tony is always on the lookout for new and exciting projects limiting himself to using just one mirrorless camera with two prime lenses with settings at either f2.8 or f2.0, and only using available lighting.
Tony’s journey into photography began later in life, and his eight-year break from the artform has allowed him to come back with a fresh perspective and a more developed eye. His slow process of taking time to observe and think before taking a photograph is something that works for him and gives his work an extra level of depth and meaning.
Tony has been working on an ongoing series of portraits documenting the people and stories behind their tattoos. His project speaks to him on a deeply personal level as he strives to look beyond the ink, believing that by looking beyond the physical appearance of a person and into their unique story, we can gain a better understanding of who they are and why they have the tattoos they do. This series has allowed him to gain insight into a new community and form some incredible connections along the way.
I have always been intrigued by tattoos as an art form, but my fascination has gone further than that - I'm curious about the stories behind the people who have them.
What inspired them to get inked?
Is there a particular tattoo that has a deeper meaning?
To create a powerful visual, I envisioned a series of portraits that had the same aesthetic while each individual tattoo held its own strength. Furthermore, I wanted the portraits to tell the story of the journey that each individual took to be there, enhancing the strength of the overall series.
I originally knew a few people with tattoos, but it was an art exhibition at a friend's gallery called The Swamp that exposed me to a vibrant tattooed community. Through word of mouth and the help of friends, I began to connect with people and photograph them.
This series is about more than just presenting beautiful artwork on bodies; it’s about discovering the stories behind the people who are tattooed and understanding their individual journeys. I hope this series can help others to look beyond the artistry of tattoos and gain insight into the lives of those who choose to decorate their skin. This project is still going strong and it's on its own journey, much like the people I've already captured.
The work of Tony Reddrop is an incredible example of the power of visual storytelling - and by exploring the stories behind the tattoos of people from all walks of life, he has opened up a doorway into a community that many of us may never have seen for ourselves. His project is a reminder that there is always something to learn from those around us, and that if we look beneath the surface, we will uncover amazing stories that are worth sharing with the world. To see more of this project, check out Tony’s Flickr and Instagram page.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and are not necessarily shared by The Pictorial List and the team.