Why Would She Tattoo A Baby On Her Chest?
by Noel Bass, Los Angeles Photographer
One of my most controversial and shared photos is this photo, simply titled, “Tattoo Baby”. For the past couple of years, Tattoo Baby has been posted on hundreds of blogs and forums, without a story attached, and frankly without my knowledge. “Controversial” for a few reasons, but mostly because of the simple question, “Why would she tattoo a baby on her chest?!”
Sites that range from tattoo-enthusiast-blogs, to your everyday image sharing forums, like Pinterest all have something to say about it. The tattoo-based-sites mostly like to discuss the complexity of the tattoo, which enthusiasts label as a “3D tattoo“, due the detail and shading. There are probably over 100 tattoo blogs that have posted “Tattoo baby” as real. Keep in mind, I never knew this was happening. The reality of this image is really nothing to get upset about or be that impressed by. I created this photo with a (model) friend a few years ago. I put it up on my flickr account, simply titled, “Tattoo Baby”. I got a few comments and wiped my hands clean of it. Basically, I was just practicing my photoshopping.
What happened though was that people began to take the photo and spread it on the internet. For the next three years, “tattoo baby” was out of my mind and out of my control.
Tattoo Baby by Noel Bass, Los Angeles Photographer
“Why did she tattoo a baby on her breasts?! Is she crazy?”
“That’s kind of… beautiful? Is that real or photoshop?”
Is that real? Therein lies the controversy. Reality versus a concept makes all the difference. It is indeed photoshopped. It’s a concept piece. It’s simple really. Breasts in America are plagued with responsibility. It’s taboo in our society to really do anything with one’s breasts, other than cover them up. They are more related to sex in our national consciousness than for the purpose of feeding a child. So it’s no surprise when you see responses such as these below, in regards to what the subject decided to do with her own body.
The above was taken from an article entitled “Creepy or Cool?” by thebuzz.com. This along with the next comments have all jumped into the pool of controversy because they think it’s reality. With no watermark or story, the only side to the story they can see is their own opinion, “She must be crazy.”
It wasn’t til recently, a friend pointed out that “tattoo baby” was also being used to promote other websites and even, other photographers claiming it as their own. Check this Instagram post that has over 17,000 likes and over 800 comments.
The person who posted this linked it to himself and another photographer. Pretty sneaky.
A facebook tattoo page posted the image and it generated a big buzz, over 28,000 likes and over 7000 shares: Click Here
One blog took the photo and pasted their own watermark (something I failed to do) on it for the attention of controversy. Check out how they made sure their website was linked to the photo: Click Here
It’s interesting to see the organic evolution of what is happening to Tattoo Baby online. I get to see the pulse on a concept as if it was reality, versus being a photoshop creation with a name and story attached. To be honest, let’s face it, it wouldn’t get nearly as much attention if people were spreading it as a photoshop piece. So it’s fun to watch the comments. What I don’t like are the people who try to claim the image as their own.
This is pretty interesting: Click this link to see the many postings on various tattoo websites: baby (scroll down after clicking to see variety)
There are several levels to the story of “tattoo baby”, such as the moral issues of ownership of one’s body or the social acceptance of breasts as separate from sex appeal. From a photographer’s standpoint, the lesson learned here is to watermark your images; something I’ll be doing with my next concept pieces.