20/05/2014 13:41 BST | Updated 20/05/2014 13:59 BST

Before And After Shots Of Hidden Tattoos Reveal A Lot About How We Judge People

Like it or not we all make assumptions about other men and women based on their appearance - we see a man in a suit and we think 'businessman'.

But would our preconceptions about a person change if we knew about the tattoos hidden beneath their clothing?

This is just one of the discussions sparked by Spencer Kovats' photography.

tattoo project

The Vancouver-based photographer has taken pictures of 30 men and women before and after they removed layers of their clothing to reveal their body art.

Spencer was one of 12 photographers who collaborated on “The Tattoo Project” where hundreds of people were invited to show off their ink for a gallery in 2010.

A book documenting the process was published in 2012, and the team will soon begin fundraising on Kickstarter to create a documentary of the events.

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Spencer said that at the beginning of this endeavor, he had a clear vision of his finished project.

But as the project progressed, Spencer found himself becoming captivated by each person’s tattoos and the stories that came with them.

"I modified my original concept to try to give each person within the ‘whole’ a story of their own.

"The piece evolved from a before and after showcase of tattoo art, to a story about the people who are under the cover of their tattoos," he said.

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Spencer Kovats 'Tattoo Project"

Taking about photographing almost 100 people in three days, Spencer likened the experience to that of an assembly line.

"I was the first point contact for each participant, and although I had only roughly ten minutes with each subject, I felt that I still had enough time to break down any initial barriers and give people a chance to break out of their shells."


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After capturing what he calls “the deer in the headlights” expression, Spencer was able to provoke some real emotions and capture not only beautiful artwork but beautiful expressions of self as well.

For his debut exhibition, Spencer hopes he has created a photograph that people will find themselves getting lost in.

"I hope that people will see the underlying implications of my photographs, and take the time to consider the differences, emotions, connections, and personalities conveyed," he said.