Bold Will Hold // Portraits of Samuele Briganti, William Cioncolini, and Lorenzo Lob

I recently went to Italy to get tattooed by Samuele Briganti. During the first session (of three) I had booked with Samuele, I sat in his chair in total peace.

Getting tattooed can still be an anxious experience, even if you are a tattoo lover like myself. Sometimes I worry about the end result not being what I had in mind, if I made the right choice on placement, if I’ll accidentally twitch during the tattoo and fuck up a line, etc.

For me, these nerves can be but aren’t solely dependent on the artist/vibe of the shop (it’s more so me being in my own head) but I didn’t feel any of these things with Samuele. I don’t believe this peaceful feeling came from just the years of following his work and repeatedly being wow-ed (though that did help) – it was more than that.

It was the way Samuele took his time, listening to what I wanted. Looking at my skin, completely unrushed, tilting his head while determining if the canvas was the appropriate size and shape. His demeanor was calm, genuine.

With all three tattoos, the stencils were placed once. No anxious voice in my head wondering if we should make it bigger, or shift it over.

For the rose on my neck, he placed the flower with a stencil, but drew the leaves on me directly with a Sharpie. I knew that was a lot of trust to have, but it didn’t induce anxiety. Imagine that – I often worry that my oven will explode upon lighting it, or that bridges are just waiting for me to drive over them to finally collapse, or <insert any other freak accident here>, but I didn’t worry about someone going free hand on my neck with permanent ink.

As he began the outline of my first tattoo (the tiger on my leg) I asked if I could take a picture while he was working on it. He answered without question, yes!

So, I snapped a few pictures of him from my point of view. We began talking about who I am, what I do, what I like. I shared that I’m a photographer and within minutes I had my “real” camera out  and was taking pictures of Samuele tattooing me.

Let me say that again: I was taking pictures of Samuele tattooing me.

There was a woman who had just wrapped up getting tattooed by another artist right next to me, and I asked her to snap a picture of me taking his picture. I felt a bit cheesy asking her,  but I couldn’t help it. WORTH IT:

Each of the three days I had booked with Samuele were incredible (albeit painful 🤣) and I also got to know William and Lorenzo, the other two artists at the shop. Not only were they all kind enough to let me take their portraits when I asked, they were actually excited!

As a photographer, you sometimes have this fear in the back of your mind that people will say “no” when you ask to take their picture and it does happen from time to time. I try not to take it personally because I know we all have our reasons, but it does sting. So you can imagine my relief and appreciation when all three of them were totally into making some badass images.

I feel very lucky to have spent a little time with these three kind souls, and honored that they connected with me and my work enough to trust me in taking their photos.

Though photos aren’t permanent like tattoos are, it’s very rare for someone to be 100% comfortable getting their picture taken, but it’s my goal to try and make it as comfortable, fun, and empowering as possible – for me too!

Thank you to Lorenzo, William, and Samuele for the warm welcome, generosity, and inspiration. 🙏🏼 Thank you to Maura for making scheduling tattoo appointments from across the world fun and easy!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy a glimpse into Bold Will Hold in Florence, Italy… 

PS.  If you want to see the other photos from my trip (including some street photography!) check out: {personal journal} I went to Italy for a tattoo

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