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For a new project titled “Skin Deep,” photographer Steven Burton has captured portraits of 27 former LA gang members and digitally altered their skin to remove tattoos.

Burton discovered his subjects via the Homeboy Industries program which offers job training and tattoo removal to former gang members. Ink removal is a massive part of leaving gang culture behind; a fact which directly influenced the project after Burton watched the documentary G-Dog. “After watching the film, I was inspired by Father Greg Boyle and equally inspired and moved by the homeboys/girls trying to change their lives against the odds,” said Burton in an interview with PetaPixel. “I knew I had to do something to help spread awareness. The concept came to me when I learned that tattoo removal was such an important part of leaving the gangs.”

Burton estimates he spent some 400 hours editing the images on Photoshop, and you can see him explain his images further in the video below.

The photographer is currently trying to fund the production of a book on the project, which you can donate to here. For the full interview, head over to PetaPixel.

Elsewhere in the photography world, be sure to check out the winning entries for wildlife photographer of the year 2016.

  • Source and Images: PetaPixel
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