While many get their first tattoo just to annoy their parents, for some their ink marks life-changing events.
Photographer Helen Mitchell has set out to record tattoos, as well as understand the stories behind them. She's found that while tattoos are expensive and painful, they are seldom trivial.
Helen Mitchell is a senior lecturer in photography at Massey University. She spoke to Wallace Chapman about some of the stories behind her subject's tattoos.
Her exhibition, Tattoo Aotearoa New Zealand, opens October 12 at The Pah Homestead - TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre, as part of Artweek Auckland.