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A tribute that's skin deep

As a prominent Olympic Peninsula photographer, Ross Hamilton is somewhat used to receiving accolades.

"I've had people say 'I've painted one of your pictures,'" he said. "It's really neat."

When he ran into Justin Rivet, however, he was in for a surprise - and possibly the biggest compliment of all.

Hamilton was at a book signing on Hurricane Ridge when he was approached by Rivet, who was visiting the area with a few friends from Florida.

"He said, 'Are you Ross Hamilton?'" the photographer recalled. "I said, yes. Then he said, 'I have your picture on my arm!'"

Rivet lifted up his sleeve to reveal a 6-inch-long tattoo on his upper arm of a photograph Hamilton had taken early in his career of Mount Olympus from High Divide.

"It's the first tattoo I've seen that I've liked!" Hamilton laughed.

Rivet, a Port Angeles native, explained that the mountain always has been a big part of his life.

"Mount Olympus is representative to me of the area," said Rivet, who recently moved to Sequim to work at Nash's Organic Produce. "I've always spent time around the mountains. It's a good symbol."

An aspiring musician who plays the guitar and drums and writes song lyrics, Rivet added that the mountain always has been his muse.

"Going out there gives me time to reflect on life," he said. "That really helps me write."

Hamilton nodded in agreement.

"It's so serene and peaceful there," Hamilton said. "(The mountain) is a truly incredible experience."

Rivet said he began searching for images of the mountain and settled on a photograph Hamilton had taken in the 1970s, before Rivet was born.

"Who better to take pictures of the area than this guy?" Rivet said, gesturing to Hamilton. "The picture was perfect. I'd seen it before so maybe it was in my subconscious, and I chose it."

He took a copy of the photograph to Red Region parlor in Port Angeles, where it took tattoo artist Aarron Laidig seven hours to complete, usually in one- or two-hour sessions.

"If it's something you really want, you don't really think about (the pain)," Rivet said, who added that the Mount Olympus etching was not his first.

Although this is only the second time the two have met, Hamilton and Rivet chat and joke with each other like old friends, connected by an image that has traveled from Hamilton's vision to Rivet's arm.

"It's quite an honor to think it's worth putting on his arm," Hamilton said.

Rivet said he has no regrets for his decision to choose Hamilton's piece.

"It takes a certain person to capture (the beauty) of the mountain," Rivet said. "He is the one that's capable of capturing the image that I wanted to put on my body."

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