A Photography Tattoo Based on 120 Film Backing Paper Designs


Photographer Michel Jones has one of the most unique photography-related tattoos we’ve seen yet. While most photography enthusiasts who get inked may choose designs that are easily recognizable by the general public (e.g. cameras, lenses, photos), Jones went with a design that is enigmatic to most people and even foreign to many photographers. His tattoo is based on the backing paper that comes with 120 film.

Here are a couple examples of what the backing paper looks like in case you’ve never seen it before:


Here’s what Wikipedia says about the long symbol-filled sheets:

The 120 format is typical of roll film […] The film is […] attached to a piece of backing paper longer and slightly wider than the film. The backing paper protects the film while it is wound on the spool, with enough extra length to allow loading and unloading the roll in daylight without exposing any of the film. Frame number markings for the three standard image formats are printed on the backing paper.



Bellamy Hunt writes that the tattoo is “almost like some kind of modern tribalism” (the tribe of analog enthusiasts?). Jones is certainly very involved with the world of film photography: he’s currently an ambassador for The Impossible Project’s instant films.

Image credits: Photographs by Bellamy Hunt and used with permission

  • Mathok12

    rotfl… ugly as hell… why not burger king barcodes next??

  • Mansgame

    I’ll be looking for the detailed explanation when I get my morning coffee from him at the Starbucks where he works as a barista.

  • Guest

    Yeah… Pretty sure Mijonju isn’t working at starbucks.

  • Mijonju

    It works as a practical ruler for measuring, I’m sure it’s better then Burger King bar codes :) thanks for reading

  • Mijonju

    I can explain it here, what do you wanna know?
    Thanks for being interested, wouldn’t want you to spend your precious time looking for a Starbucks with me in it, might take you a pretty long time to find it :)
    Cheers ;)

  • joshkeal

    suddenly those tacky hindu scripts and chinese characters don’t look so bad

  • Anthony Harden

    Folks can be so quick to judge without remembering that most tattoos hold a personal meaning to the wearer. That’s an interesting concept for a tattoo if for no other reasons than its rarity and personal quirkiness. Personally, I think it looks pretty sweet.

  • Wes Rollend

    I dig it, then again I still shoot medium format along
    with my digital. Well played sir.

  • streetportraitist


  • AnonPhotog

    I love it, Very original.

  • f2point8

    Pretty cool idea. Every good tattoo should prompt questions and provoke comments. Someday this guy will have a few good stories to go with that ink.

  • glo vader

    I love it.

  • Michael Dixon-Brooks

    Cool and been a long time since I’ve seen those symbols.

  • Eric J

    Here in Toronto, photography tattoos are have gotten a lot more popular. You see simple ones from a small text (i.e. “F/1.2″) to typical tattoo designs with their photography equipment. To be honest, most of them are tacky and screams “I want people to know that photography is the most meaningful part of my life”. The worse is the aperture ring around their wrist/arms. They don’t look good because your arms aren’t perfectly round but they think it’s unique and everyone claims that they thought of the idea themselves.

  • Stuntman Mike

    I have a tattoo down my left arm in the same place and I refer to it as an “idiot filter”. If someone can judge and choose not to talk to me based on that alone, that is fine with me. It saves a lot of time talking to immature non-creatives.

  • Thomas Boom

    Mijonju has exactly the same tattoo. saw it in one of eric kims video’s.

  • Henning Kristjansson Nilsen

    I like it.
    It might need retouching to remain readable after a couple of years, but it shouldn’t be that bad.

    I would have utilized the space more, but I don’t see this guy going for full sleeves like me anyways.

  • Mansgame

    Well I’m impressed that you’re here. I guess the biggest question is “WHY?!?!?!” You seem young now so it may be a fun conversation starter but when you’re in your 40’s, do you think anybody will take you seriously at your job? Maybe you work in a cold climate and can wear long sleeve shirts year round but other than being a DJ, Barista, Bartender, or cashier, people aren’t going to take you seriously.

  • Kane

    Very cool! It’s very different from the f-stop and camera tattoos you see a lot. Love it!

  • Jason Kim

    Michel Jones is Mijonju……

  • Piggy

    What a moron.

  • Nick


    Another “photographer” trying to get attention because his pictures probably don’t on their own merit.

  • Joey

    I’m 33, soon to be 34, I have this on my left wrist:

    I also have a full right sleeve with music tattoos because I’m a classically trained singer. And I’m a photo tech at I’m taken seriously because I do my job well. And when I was a freelancer, my lens diagram tattoo actually landed me a few gigs. The notion of tattoos still being a social stigma is quickly disappearing in the 21st century. If you do good work, that’ll say more about you to your clients, coworkers, employers, etc., than any tattoo will.

  • sickofmansgame

    Hey Mans-weak-game, Mijonju has done more for photography than most out there. He is one of the few people dedicated to the medium and to helping amatuers. If you dont like the tattoo, then stop looking. Otherwise, go back to posing with your DSLR and taking digital pics in automode.

  • DamianMonsivais

    Yeah Mansgame does love his little digital cameras. From all the post Ive seen of his.

  • Abram Gotthardt

    Interesting idea but thats some really fine text and lines that may bleed out and or fade fairly soon.

  • Angus424

    It’s not tatoos that have carry a social stigma; it’s stupidity.

  • Angus424

    Buddy, that is the most infantile anti-social piece of garbage I’ve heard in a long time. Perhaps there are other reasons why people are choosing not to talk to you, like…..I don’t know…..your personality?

  • Piggy

    What about if you were a surgeon? How about a tattoo of a bloody scalpel on your forehead, or a colostomy bag tattoo on your chest? You trendy, brainless clowns are so pre-programmed with the blind acceptance of transient icons of popular culture (like tattoos) that you don’t comprehend the inherent asininity and vulgarity of marking yourself up like a cartoon character from a Popeye cartoon. Good Christ, what would Weegee or Lartigue think of an imbecile with a roll of film tattooed on his arm? They would think you were being punished or that you were a psychiatric inmate. Don’t you have any comprehension how moronic your actions are? Wake up, you idiot.

  • Piggy

    I think you are laboring under a delusion. What you actually have is a self inflicted “idiot identifier”. You are not a “creative”, you are a sheeplike herd follower.

  • Piggy

    Yeah, you can be a good “Sondercommando”, and have your camp ID numbers tattooed on your arm.

  • Joe Nash

    lol mansgame ‘do you think anyone will take you seriously at your job’? I’ve been following Mijonju for years and his advocacy of film makes him an up-n-coming prominent figure in our industry. and he works at Impossible Project – so I’d say he’s doing okay.

  • Lordoftheflies

    Piggy, you make me laugh. If you think all people with tatts are “idiots” then you certainly have limited who you can talk to in life. And with your miopic view of the world, I am so happy that I am one of the “idiots”.
    Oh, and you are soooooo original by name calling. You may not be part of a sheeplike herd, but its not because you are special…its because no herd wants ya.

  • HeySteve

    Just…. Wow.

  • Jenni

    What matter is it to you what someone puts on their forearm? The purpose of most individuals tattoos are personal. It’s wonderful that you have an opinion, but calling someone an idiot or imbecile for a personal choice is childish. That’s a personal attack.

  • Piggy

    I’m doing him a favor. Probably nobody ever talked sanity to him in his life.

  • Naga_Ten

    I’m not sure i even wanna know your thoughts on piercings or other kinds of body modification.
    Circumcisions even! *gasp*
    Get over your self. If you’re that quick to judge people you’re far, far worse than anyone you might try to call out.

  • Naga_Ten

    Yes. Yes you are.

  • Naga_Ten

    Lol, you sound like my mom.
    I’m 24 and finishing my college degree in Multimedia and, quite like photography, it’s an area where people aren’t really expected to go to work using a suit and tie. I for one don’t have any tattoos as of yet, but i also never wore a suit in my live, nor will i ever. If people think less of me for it, screw people. I don’t live my life for others, i live it for myself.
    It’s about time -people- stop caring only for how others look and maybe start looking a little at themselves.
    I don’t know of any Multimedia/Photography company that wouldn’t hire me solely based on the fact i hypothetically had a tattoo. Portfolio is all that matters.

  • Kimberly Siebert

    This is killer original and only die hard enthusiasts would get it. That is why it’s awesome… this is the first original tat that I’ve seen in 20 years.

  • Kimberly Siebert

    Right? What a dipshit….

  • Kimberly Siebert

    Dont think hes “going for” full sleeves anyways. Hes pretty original and individualistic. All though a full foto arm would be pretty original.

  • Swissjon

    @Mansgame:disqus … I’m 44.. I’m heavily tattoo’d.. I like my tats and I think this one is pretty cool too.

    I am a project manager for a multinational company. I earn a six figure income.. People respect me. Your prejudices are irrelevant, inaccurate and childish.

  • Kev Montgomery

    Who cares what he does with his body! If you think it’s wrong, don’t do it to yourself, but let others do what they want without judge/hating them.

  • Kev Montgomery

    We’re in 2013 here! I thought people stopped judging others because of tattoos!

  • Douchebag Rodeo

    Interesting perspective. I’m in my 40’s and an executive at an advertising agency. I have a steady job with big responsibilities. I’m on one of many people here with a tattoo. Care to rethink that?