Jeff Bitting, right, from St Augustine, Florida, speaks back stage with fellow full-body tattoo contestants before judging at the National Tattoo Association Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 13, 2012. In his 33 years of getting tattoos, Bitting says he has had about 500 hours of work and will complete his other leg in his bid to win more full-body contests.
Reuters Senior photographers Jason Reed and Larry Downing traveled across the country recently to attend two different tattoo conventions in Hampton Roads, Va., and Cincinnati, Ohio, while working on a multimedia project entitled, “Addicted to the Needle” which opens a window into the private world and the culture of tattooing.
A tattooed participant holds her baby in the Hampton Roads Tattoo Festival in Hampton Roads, Va. on March 3, 2012. The hobby of collecting tattoos has exploded into mainstream society with tattoo conventions and festivals held year-round across the U.S.
David Billings, from Abingdon, Md., wears a full-back tattoo featuring all nine members of his favorite band, Slipknot, as a woman admires the art at the Hampton Roads Tattoo Festival in Va. on March 2, 2012. Billings said he's had over 150 hours of tattoo work done over a 12-year period, now covering over half his body. He says tattoos are now as main stream as the Coca-Cola Co.