Toronto chefs' tattoos, captured in photos

Toronto chefs’ tattoos, captured in photos

Toronto chefs' tattoos, captured in photos

Charlotte Langley, chef at Scout Canning: “The mackerel is her favourite fish. She’s an east coast girl, so she loves seafood, and is passionate about sustainable fishing.”

Some folks see ample tattoos as a service industry cliché; instead, photographer Brilynn Ferguson spotted a world ripe for documentation. Her Industry Ink project features portraits of chefs, cooks and bartenders in their natural habitats, plus brief interviews that give readers a peek into the story behind each piece.

We spoke to Ferguson about the project and what it’s like being the “bartender’s bartender.”

How did this project begin?

I’m a full-time freelance photographer, and that means sometimes you’re insanely busy, and sometimes you’ve suddenly got free time on your hands. Industry Ink started during a downturn three years ago where I decided I needed a project for myself to fill some time, but also have it be creatively my own.

When I started this project, portraits weren’t something I did a lot of. I wasn’t even sure I was going to like doing them. But I found out quickly, to my surprise, that it was the opposite. I found shooting people really interesting – especially how they ended up telling me their stories.

The thing about tattoos is that most of them are so personal – even if the design itself isn’t super-personal, there’s almost always some kind of story there. I was meeting a lot of these people for the first time, but instead of making the usual small talk, we were going right away into really personal detail about their lives. It kind of bonds you. Photos by Samuel Engelking Jean Régis Raynaud, chef at Le Baratin: “First tattoos are hard! Jean Regis’ first was a scorpion (his zodiac sign) with his initials. He said he wouldn’t get that now — but I replied that at least his initials and birthday are never going to change.”

What was your relationship to tattoos like when you began the project? […]