The tattoo, as an original work, is protected by copyright.
Copyright protection is quite generally broad, and covers not only the
original work itself, but any reproductions of the work, as well as
what are known as 'derivative works' -- anything derived from the
original that still retains its recognizable features.
You can read the basics of copyright protection at the US Copyright Office website:
WHAT IS COPYRIGHT?
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United
States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of ?original works of
authorship,? including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and
certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both
published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act
generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and
to authorize others to do the following:
--To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
--To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
--To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by
sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or
and so on.
A photograph of the tattoos that you describe would almost certainly
be considered copies or derivatives of the original, and would be
fully protected by copyright.
Please note the disclaimer at the bottom of this page, however. GA is
no substitute for professional legal advice, so you may want to
consider consulting a professional before making any decisions on this
Let me know if there's anything else I can do for you.
search strategy -- Used my knowledge of copyright, and a bookmarked
link to the Copyright Office