Photographer ‘Erases’ Ex-Gang Members’ Tattoos: ‘I Didn’t Realize the Impact These Photos Would Have’
Photographer Steven Burton is trying to change the way people view former gang members by showing what they would look like without their tattoos.
“The idea was to digitally remove the tattoos, present the before-and-after photos to the subjects, and see how they would react. I knew that the subjects would be shocked by the images, and probably amused, but I didn’t realize the full impact these photos would have on them, nor was I aware of the kind of impact their reactions would have on me.”
While shooting his 27 subjects, Burton came to know their heartbreaking histories.
“Every story was shocking to me,” he says. “I was less interested in the crimes they had committed and more interested in the process they took in turning around their lives.”
Burton hopes the images help to humanize his subjects in the eyes of society.
He is now fundraising to create a book with the photographs that will also share the stories of each of the men and women pictured.