It's difficult to pinpoint where exactly Whoretography began. I had been a wedding photographer for some time and had grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of critical thought in the wedding industry. It was evident from the beginning of my photographic career that I was never going to fit in with an industry that expected photographs to conform to a set of predefined photographic wedding rules. The rules conceived so long ago that asking the simple question of why do wedding photographers shoot the way they do was routinely met with the answer we are wedding photographers, it's what we do. I was never comfortable with that dismissive approach to wedding photography and sought a greater understanding of my craft from a theoretical perspective.
So, I began wondering about what was the actual role of wedding photography. Was I reflecting reality with a creative edge? Was I part of a conspiracy of intimacy in which my camera was acting as an agent for the falsehood of staged love? Was I in the business of creating photographic bullshit to help husbands and brides to be to convince themselves of couple cohesion and family unity?
These thoughts would swirl around my head at ceremonies and receptions. Consequently, my work took on a more rebellious edge; I started to challenge the conventional norms of wedding industry as I steered away from soft hues and romantic presets to dark imagery that began to make a social comment about marriage, feminism and the illusion of togetherness. I was subconsciously producing advant garde imagery that reflected the internal conflict I had about being a wedding photographer. Had I sold my photographic soul to a £6 billion a year industry and will my photographic archive only consist of marital photographic fluff?
Something had to give. Then something did give. I got outed as a sex worker to a wedding magazine editor, and all hell broke loose. A horrendous time of business loss, homelessness and an 18-month bout of vile whorephobia followed what was an exceptionally painful and challenging period in my life.
When I came out the other end, I was more determined than ever to be the type of wedding photographer I wanted to be. At the same time challenge convention and well, to be honest, stick a cheeky fuck you two finger salute to the people in the wedding industry who took offence to a whore in their midst. It was irrelevant that I was an award winning, published photographer who'd shot magazine covers. There was no way a clique of bloggers and editors with their cliched wedding ideas and apparent rock n roll approach to the industry was going to welcome a whore.
So, I did it without them. Fuck 'em!
When I was rebuilding my photographing career, I returned to sex work and committed the cardinal sin of falling for a devilishly handsome married client. Within three visits we'd stopped using condoms, within four he'd stop paying and then what were monthly visits and became weekly trysts. So, this is part two of how Whoretography began.
I had a longing to document the sexual encountersI had with that Battersea Bourgois married man. To photograph that connective (what felt like MDMA-inspired) Friday morning fucking that we enjoyed. A desire to shoot that feeling of how deep he was inside of me, photograph our hot entangled bodies, to photograph that look on his face as he convulsed beneath me as he came. To capture it all before we royally fucked up by making a baby.
Our affair exists now to me only as a stash of Polaroids secreted away in an innocuous metal box in my studio along with the ultrasound scan of the baby we lost. A baby who like our affair ended up as just a collection of photographs.
It's this belief that we all end up as a collection of photographs that made me, as a wedding photographer, question the role photography plays in creating the illusion of couple cohesion and marital intimacy. Made me explore the role wedding photography plays in creating the falsehood of togetherness. That happily ever after we chase. If wedding photography is a grand illusion of intimacy, then my thinking was documenting a recently married man with a sex worker is photographic proof absolute of the lies printed on the pages of wedding albums.
My married lover was my muse - well he was until he left me while I was miscarrying. Married in July 2013, he came looking for me in November of 2013. I was interested in photographing that rapport and alchemy that was absent from his marriage. Not alchemy with a husband and wife but with man and whore.
I am fascinated with documenting human connection, the courtship rituals within the confines of payment. Lovers and friends but within the boundaries of a commercial transaction.
I want to photograph the genuine intimacy married men seek out of their marital beds. I am fascinated with the hidden worlds of husbands. Steve McQueens ( I called him Steve McQueen because he'd show up riding his motorcycle, travelling all the distance of 7 mins from his home to mine), His role of the husband, was a source of fascination to me, as was his role of lover.
Moving forward, I approached a university with the idea of documenting paid for sexual intimacy as the visual antidote to the false visual intimacy of wedding photography. Whoretography has since morphed into a Masters Degree in the field of digital photography and creative media arts. It's avisual platform at the intersection of images, technologies, society and the sex worker rights movement. It's a combination of cyberethnography and visual research methods. It's an independent publishing and activist platform.
It'scalling into question the role imagery plays in the online transaction of sex and marriage. Whoretography IS the first academic, ethnographic and creative platform dedicated solely to understanding the role photography plays in sex work.
There are no methods to my photographic madness (madness is probably not too strongly put) I am a little nuts bonkers when it comes to cyber ethnography. I am an obsessive hoarder of pictures. If only I collected lovers the way I collect photographs. Editor as Author. Creative Director. A photographer not using a camera. A collector. A curator. I've plundered the depths of the internet; I can't unsee shit, torn out images from magazines, spent money I do not have on books. I like to create order with typologies. I rescue images from the chaos that is the collapsing digital archive we call the internet. I am obsessed. Whoretography is a compulsion, an addiction, a love letter to prostitution, a rebellion against brides. A fuck you to a lover who left me; it's the moment we change the way sex worker imagery is understood forever.
You can buy the Whoretography magazine for £3 via the Whoretography shop on Blurb as a PDF or an e-magazine as of Wednesday the 11th of January. I will post the link on Wednesday morning. This edition is not suitable for printing (the photographs are low resolution, purposely so), subsequent editions will be sold as limited edition hard copies also.
The aim is to make the magazine a quarterly publication but given this edition took me 5 months it make take sometime before it comes to fruition ...
I don't normally do this, talk about non sex work, non photography stuff on the blog but I wanted to give a shout-out to a friend of mine who has been a massive supporter of Whoretography since before, well before Whoretography was just a random post fucking idea I had whilst staring at a naked sweaty Steve McQueen.
As a freelance photographer, I know running a small online business can be a ball buster, so I wanted to give a shout out to my friend who has launched an on-line Vap Store and to be honest, I am not sure what goes better with fucking than smoking (okay, vaping)
Please follow him on the Twitter @OnlineVapeStore and visit his store here If you want more information just email him ... firstname.lastname@example.org
and in the spirit of changing the visual landscape one awesome photograph at a time, be sure to enter competition via the Twitter Who sends in the greatest picture of vaping in London #theonlinevapestore #londonvapers. The winner will receive a great selection of random prizes from our store to enjoy.
Many thanks, go forth and Vape peeps.
Whoretography scored a nice blog entry as part of the Beyond the Gaze Project , you can read the blog post here. It's a redacted version of the one that I'll publish in the Whoretography magazine https://www.beyond-the-gaze.com/2016/11/17/false-photographic-consciousness-the-visual-war-on-sex-work/
Here is a snippet ....
The prohibitionist visual portrayal shapes everyone’s understanding of the lives and bodies of sex workers. It's that; we must challenge and call out. A new interpretation of sex worker imagery can change the visual landscape that forms the political and social views that rob so many of us of autonomy. Change what people see of sex work, and we change what they understand.
People’s perception of other people’s experiences is informed by the images they see, so it's unsurprising prohibitionist picture selection always drums out the victim narrative. Except Rachel Moran, because Moran thought it fit to sell a harrowing tale of a working class girl abused with a fashion inspired photograph airbrushed and photo-shopped to boot. I believe they are not aware they are doing it, a false photography consciousness. So blinded by their visual rhetoric they believe it to be the obvious visual truth. This denial is handy if you seek to indoctrinate people perversely with their not so subtle attempts at visual rhetoric.
I thought it time I printed business cards for Whoretography since I commence a speaking circuit of sorts in December. The image is classified as a found image. One of the hundreds of found polaroids ofwomen who auditioned to strip at a club in the 60s and 70s. The polaroids bought for $10 and came with a box of 400. Despite the gentleman paying for them, he does not, in fact, own the copyright, that belongs to the original photographer and since he or she cannot be found, the images are classified as found photographs and can be registered pursuant to the Orphan Works legislation for commercial use.
Donating to Whoretography (https://uk.gofundme.com/w-tography) helps me to register these images as Orphan Works.
How much for that dead whore in the window?
No bloody idea to be honest but if you ask Mouvement du Nid I'm guessing a badly edited over photoshopped mock dead whore shot is a must have for the prohibitionists for profit these days. If pimps apparently profit off the prostituted then prohibitionists profit from death and questionably choice in editing. Trigger warning; the photo editing is woeful, can't believe these muppets won an award for this photographic nonsense.
This is an extract from an article to be published soon. The tame version to be published on an academic site and the more passionate I blame you people for the murder of prostitutes, I'm not letting you off the visual hook version in the magazine. If their intentions were not so vile, the editing would be laughable. They don't look dead they look liker they need B12 injections and a bit of sun.
The French anti prostitution organisation Mouvement du Nid, created a fake escort website (http://girlsofparadise.sex) with the aim of deterring men from paying for sex. The site a perfect example of why the dead whore is such a powerful visual marketing tool. Mouvement du Nid argue they are fighting violence against sex workers by using violent images, completely oblivious and ignorant to the way photography gives justification to the violence Mouvement du Nid claim to want to stop. So ignorant, they celebrated upon being awarded a prestigious advertising award for doing nothing more than promoting a stereotype. For an organisation that claims to save sex workers, an image of a dead prostitute is essential for bringing in cash donations.
The uncharitable bastards at the Salvation Army also understands the financial benefits of maintaining the visual status quo. They were forced to make a public apology after sex workers complained over the representation that vilified them as bad mothers. Although the Salvation Army issued an apology over the offensive material, and lacked the photographic balls to use the dead hooker look, other campaigns that visually depict sex worker as hapless deviants continue to form part of their fund raising strategy. Perhaps, one should ask them how much for that dead whore in the window? No, that is not a rhetorical question, as I'd love to know the amount of money a dead hooker photo is worth in so called charitable donations.
My apologies for the blogging silence of late but I have now returned to blogging on a regular basis. Thought it would be best to list what I am working on in addition to the academic requirements of a practice-based MA (writing my dissertation and completing the 5/6 books)
So, this is what is happening with Whoretography
- Launching the Whoretography Magazine, a quarterly e-magazine dedicated solely to the discussion of sex work and photography. Subsequent editions will be available as hard copies.
- Maintaining an internet presence via the website, blog and twitter accounts. I deactivated the Instagram account as not sure of its direction, and the Twitter account is locked due to a few people thinking its acceptable to spread whorephobia.
- Set up a Gofundme account for those who wish to support Whoretography anonymously www.gofundme.com/w-tography
- Publishing a book of anonymous found sex worker polaroids
- Photographing the cover of a sex work academic book
- Writing for the Beyond the Gaze research project
- Preparing to speak at an academic conference in January (will publish details soon)
- Preparing to speak at a well-known chain bookstore details to follow as soon as I have more information.
Whoretography began because I had a longing to document the sexual encounters I had with a married man. That connective (what felt like MDMA-inspired) fucking that we enjoyed. A desire to photograph our entangled bodies before we royally fucked it up.
Whoretography has since morphed into a Masters Degree in the field of creative media arts. It's a visual platform at the intersection of images, technologies and society. A combination of cyber ethnography and visual research methods. An independent publishing and sex work activist platform.
So this is a side project of mine not directly related to Whoretography and my MA but it stems from the number of unsolicited penis photos sent to me via my MA website. There have been more than a few. Thanks, but no thanks. Not sure what offends me more. The state of hygiene these days (soap peoples) or the appalling quality of men's photographic abilities.
Then I got to thinking. What would happen if I started curating these images? So I did.
Whilst bed bound post miscarriage I started to group together (so to speak) random male appendages. I want to turn these visual tools of male aggressiveness into photographic social commentary via a digital & physical book. A book form with an emphasis on the photo-book as an exhibition space looking at the visual maleness on the internet.
Why not use these poorly lit and badly focused cock shots as a social comment about the aggressiveness of men via a visual medium? A photo-book mock the cock if you will. The use of photography and satire to make a point about random penis and the sharing of imagery.
Why the fuck not?
So I am in the process of curating a book. Any suggestions on a title is welcome ... no really, tweet me!
Just so we are clear!!!
I have never solicited nude photographs as part of this MA and at NO point in time have I EVER requested random penis photos from strangers on the internet. So what better way to challenge this anonymous hyper sexualised aggressive behaviour by publishing them as a fine art book that takes aim at what frankly men should be aiming elsewhere other than my inbox.
So, I relish in the fact that the Orphan Image (Works) Legislation permits me to use any image I like for commercial purposes just as long as I have made reasonable attempts to find the owner of the image. So listen up! To the men who have sent me unsolicited cock shots. To satisfy legislative requirements he is my reasonable attempt at finding the owner of this images.
Dear random anonymous dude,
Did you send me an unsolicited photo of your penis in the last 18 months because I am going to use these unsolicited images for commercial purposes. If so and you don't want me to use them for commercial gain, please come forward and claim your cock shot.
Thank you random dudes.
My book at the moment is a little short and well, not as thick as I would like it to be. Size matters in publishing . Its all inches and diameter. So if you are a sex worker and have had the unfortunate experience of receiving unsolicited cock shots, please send them to my via DM or email me at email@example.com.
Men take note, if you send me cock shots, I will publish them with your email addresses. I really just want the cock shots that have been sent to sex workers.
Massive thanks to sex workers once again and average (in some cases less than average) thanks to the men who have already cock shot me.
Are you a customer of escorts/sex workers who advertise on line or via apps? Do you purchase webcamming services? Are you a customer of a professional dominatrix?
Please Help Us Out & Contribute to an important study on internet based sex work
The research project ‘Beyond the Gaze’ is the largest study to date of internet based sex work and is being carried out by an experienced team of researchers at Leicester and Strathclyde Universities, who have many years experience of carrying out research with people working in adult services/sex industry including their customers. It is a legitimate and important UK wide study which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and is exploring the use of online and digital technologies in the sex industry. Go to our website to find out more about the research and the team who are carrying it out http://beyond-the-gaze.com/ As part of this research we are seeking the views and experiences of customers through an online survey which should take no longer than 10 minutes. This survey is designed for customers of all genders and sexual orientations. The survey does not collect any identifying information, it is completely anonymous, has permission from the University ethics committee and we work within strict ethical guidelines to protect the privacy and anonymity all people taking part in our research.
Please go to the survey at the following link;https://leicester.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/customersbeyondthegaze
The survey is open until 31st August 2016. We’d really value you input! Thanks for considering this and hopefully for taking part.
If you would like more information about the survey or the project please feel free to contact: Professor Teela Sanders on firstname.lastname@example.org
Whoretography scored a mention at an international conference on media and communication held last Saturday. Whoretography was discussed in relation to sexual marketing on the Las Vegas strip. Some of the points raised were the dangers of the continued use of the hyper-sexualised images of sex workers that lead to violence and stigma and that sexual marketing is about the spectacle, the illusion, the mirage of sex and very little to do with actually selling sex.
Whoretography began because I had a crush on a bloke. Yup. No surprises there.
It's all because of a man. Well, not entirely but he was at the beginning of my Whoretography thought process. His penis was inspired. In more than one way. I wanted to photograph him naked. I wanted to photograph us naked. Mostly I wanted to photograph him naked whilst he was fucking me. I had no intention of sharing the images with anyone except him. I had no idea how I was going to hold the camera. I wanted to chronical us together and then tuck the photographs away in a box on a shelf next to the one marked Summer, Paris 2008. He was that glorious belle époque age of a man, 36. There is something incredibly sexy about a man at that age. He just happened to be very photogenic. Naked in my bed and a willing co-conspirator.
What started out as a post fucking (literally) idea in 2014 has evolved into something somewhat remarkable. We can all thank a certain strapping gentleman for that. I was laying next to him one morning and just blurted out I want to photograph clients and sex workers together. It was at the start of our sexual obsession with each other. I did not have the balls to say I want to photograph us fucking. To bold perhaps. Instead, I said I want to photograph clients and sex workers. I quipped that I'd call myself the Whoretographer. We laughed. He left and I thought to myself, well actually that's not a bad an idea.
We did, of course, experiment with photography during the course of our over sexed, ill-conceived and entirely selfish affair. He would agree and beg to be photographed. Mainly whilst drunk. Sexting me from his £1.3 million marital Battersea abode. The baby asleep upstairs. A whiskey in one hand. His cock in the other. On more than one occasion he would come over and find cameras bracketed to the bedroom wall. That night on that couch will always be a grainy set of prints.
I wanted to capture the authentic intimacy we had. That undeniable connection of two strangers taken out of context. Plonked naked next to each other for two hours every week for 3 years. I was over shooting weddings and wanted to shoot him.
To understand wedding photography you need to understand one thing. That you are creating the illusion of happiness, the falsehood of togetherness in one breathtakingly stunning set of images. Photography as an agent for the illusion of intimacy.
If wedding photography is the illusion of faked intimacy then the antidote to that surely was to photograph married men with sex workers seeking the authentic intimacy that was faked in their wedding photographs. Sounds logical to me.
End of part one.
As sent to Whoretography
My name is Raven, I've been an advocate for sex worker health, safety and recognition for many years in Canada. I used to run a sex worker organization called PACE Society in Vancouver and I coordinated the BC Coalition of Experiential Communities, a regional sex worker research and advocacy group. My most recent advocacy project was Hooker Monologues, performed March 2016 in Canada. I'm now at the University of York doing my PhD and I'm proud to be on the board of ScotPEP, a sex worker organization. See my Bio https://www.york.ac.uk/sociology/our-staff/students/raven-bowen/
My past academic work was about how people transition in and out of sex work, deal with 'whore stigma' and challenge those who see sex work only as harm. I highlight that some people are not entering or leaving sex work, instead they find ways to balance jobs in both sex work and square (non sexual) work at the same time. I call this 'duality.'
I'm seeking participants to interview to explore how people manage information about themselves, decide who to disclose to and who not to, carve out different work identities, keep secrets, switch back and forth between jobs, and how experiences in either job to helps or hinders performance in the other. We will discuss the benefits and challenges of working in this very versatile way and discover tips and strategies to help others who do the same.
More details are on the project blog https://dualitystudy.blogspot.co.uk/ but here are the basics:
· be over 18 years old
· work in the off-street sex industry
· hold at least one non sex work paid job (all paid work included, casual, part or full-time, self-employed, etc.)
· live and work in the UK and
· have relevant experience juggling both kinds of work
· This study is open to all genders and nationalities. Since everyone has such busy lives, I am very open to doing interviews over the phone or via Skype™, or face to face where possible.
· Participants will receive a £25 Amazon gift card or an electronic Amazon gift card if you've done a phone or Skype™ interview as a thank you for providing your insights.
· This study received ethics approval from the University of York on May 13th 2016 and I will do everything possible to make sure your participation is safe. I will not collect or disclose personal information about participants outside of an email address to send gift cards as needed.
The goal of the study is to expand the ways that people define and describe sex work and sex workers. Some discourses discuss sex work as something that someone is 'trapped' in or has 'survived', or as something that people are either ‘in’ or ‘out’ of. There is very little academic work on strategic involvement in sex work and few studies challenge mainstream notions of who a sex worker is or can be.
I argue that sex workers participate in all kinds of skilled work across jobs in sex work and square work and unless outed, most people can be in a room with or work with sex workers and not know it...and for good reason! The violence of stigma perpetrated by mainstream society keeps people in hiding, hence the title of the study 'In Plain Sight: an examination of 'duality', the simultaneous involvement in sex work and square work.'
This study will be a way to talk about duality safely and challenge the simplistic understandings of people who do both kinds of work and the biased representations sex workers.
If you're interested, email me at email@example.com
I have seen a lot of disturbing content in the last 18 months. I am sure you can imagine. I don't need to show the graphic examples. Everything from child abuse victims to privileged white women dragging out images of so called prostituted ethnic minorities reminiscent of saving the natives colonialism.
I have seen it all. I thought I had seen it all. It saddens me that I have to write this post. I was actually filled with rage when I saw the image in question. I am a vocal opponent of the commonly used police tactic of using forced portraits of sex workers. Its an effective strategy for the continued oppression of sex workers and lets be honest, nothing convinces the middle class masses they are safe more than a photograph of police in action. I am continually amazed at the ways state agencies wield photography to degrade sex workers and how the general public suck this up as proof absolute of effective policing.
The mass circulation of a photograph of a vulnerable woman being arrested makes the chattering classes of a neighbourhood undergoing gentrification feel less vulnerable. Picking up the human filth from the pristine over priced streets. The illusion of safety. The propaganda of gentrification. Police view sex workers as devalued commodities and extend this commodification to their visual representation. When a sex worker encounters law enforcement they are robbed of their photographic representation, ownership transfers to the state. These stolen images subsequently inform the social landscape influencing draconian legislation that renders the sex worker dehumanised.
A few weeks back Hackney Police - Brownswood SNT circulated a photograph to 5000 residents. The photograph depicted an easily identifiable vulnerable member of the local community being arrested for street walking. The police made no efforts to conceal the woman's face. Why would they? This was an ideal public relations moment for the Hackney Police. The photograph was accompanied by an article proudly boasting of moving these degenerate prostitutes out of the neighbourhood. If this is Hackney Police taking a holistic approach to sex work then I'd hate to witness the inhumane approach.
I am grateful that Hackney Police do not carry guns given how unethically they wield cameras.
The photo is below. I have crudely edited the women in question out. Took me less than a minute. If only Hackney Police payed the woman the same courtesy. There are other ways to visually demonstrate a crack down on prostitution. I am at a loss to think why the go to image was one of shame. They effectively outed a sex worker to 5000 residents.
I find many aspects of the publication of this image questionable. Not sure what bothers me more. The blatant lack of consequential thinking on behalf of Hackney Police or the gleeful shaming of a sex worker. It reminds me of a hunter holding up the dead bloodied carcass of his unfortunate catch.
Images have a traceable life path. All Images are networked. This image will never be out of circulation. Despite Hackney Police deleting the offending image, the photograph is now on a journey. It will proliferate online. Delivered to new viewers via social media platforms. The transmission and reception of this image is now unstoppable. Hackney Police have robbed this woman of her photographic agency for a cheap publicity back slapping stunt. In poor image selection, Hackney Police have demonstrated their pathological disregard for the safety and well being of sex workers. The journey of this ill conceived photograph will be endless and will continue long after this poor woman has been forced out of her community.
I've printed it. Its pinned to my wall as a daily reminder as to why photography matters in the fight for sex worker rights.
Its happy dance time at Whoretography HQ because we have hit 3000 followers on the twitter. What better way to celebrate than with the stereotypical pretty woman image that mocks photo editors for their lazy visual portrayal of sex workers.
Happy Dance 3000 peeps!
Bending into a car window:
The media’s role in perpetuating stereotypes, stigma and the ‘discourses of disposability’ against sex workers
I am really pleased to see that Whoretography was cited at the Gender, Crime & media BSA seminar on June 8th at Birmingham City University.
Its the curse of this project.
The curse of any photographic art based project. For like sex work, many believe if you enjoy photography then you should give it away for free. Why do it for money? To that I say. Piss off and be silent! Fucking idiots.
Now is not the time to discuss consent, enjoyment and the nightmare it must be to have a prohibitionist mind in the age of bodily autonomy and self determination.
Money. Its a daily struggle.
A struggle behind some of my most memorable twitter rants. Finding the money to turn this Whoretography caper into what I imagine it to be . A visual movement. Photography as an agent for change. A photographic movement in the fight for the human and labour rights of sex workers. A platform to call bullshit on the continued imprisonment of sex workers in a false visual cycle of oppression and hate. Something, the salvation army has come to harness to the detriment of sex workers. More about those uncharitable bastards later.
Right now this project is funded by donations. Very kind and much needed donations and through advance book sales. It is also self funded but regrettably I can't keeping moving money around to help me channel this visual rage against oppression (and lets be honest, against blatant stupidity) into a worthy cause.
It's a fine balance between finding the money to pay for a self funded Masters Degree and potentially a PhD and the idea of calling it quits. The books are almost finished, and I will be selling the polaroids from my polaroid project (more details to follow) and I am trying to hustle for grants and funding without appeasing to the 'oh lets rescue a whore narrative' that seems to mandatory when it comes to being awarded sex work (ohh sorry, the prostituted) project funding.
If anyone has any ideas about how/where I can tap into funding sources, then please comment or ping me a DM or email.
My cousin died of breast cancer at the age of 40. That really pissed me off. It royally pissed me off. She has gone from being a vibrant being to a mass produced generic Facebook wall where people continue to post messages of loss and good times. A place where I can read her last email to me, and mine to her where I say I will see her when I'm back. I never did see her again. She still continues to pop into my timeline as a notification. She can't be dead. She lives on in Facebook.
This makes me feel uncomfortable. Not sure how I feel about her Facebook account still being active but its not my call. Her children own that decision. The children of the post industrial photographic print revolution. They see her Facebook wall as a way to honour her. I see the sadness in someone who once was being reduced to a digital image on a platform that may not exist in 20 years time.
As a photographer, as someone who knows the world of the image pre and post the digital age, as someone who constantly questions the archival state of the digital age we find ourselves in, I do not understand the need, the desire or the compelling nature to share images before we print them.
I don't expect you to understand the pain and mental anguish I have about the loss of the print. I am in a constant state of angst. I have said this before. We all end up just as a collection of photographs, my father did. I am thankful he did not end up as a Facebook wall and yes, its pisses me off when others post photos of him on my wall. He died in 1977. He has no place being Facebooked.
Its the height of photo rudeness in my book.
Inspired by the immortal nature of the print and trying to find a way to process the death of my cousin I started a polaroid wall. 18 months ago on the day she died I started sticking them to my wall. I find the act of taking the photo, selecting them, taping them, arranging them and then standing back and looking at them therapeutic.
It gives me a moment of piece until I start re arranging them, straightening them. Taking more. Then the peace comes back and the process starts again. Its an addiction I am not willing to stop.
I have 1000 polaroids on my wall.
Nobody really looks at what they see. I know this to be true by the number of people that glance at this wall but do not walk up to it and really look at it. Really see. See the nakedness. The self reflection. The sex workers. The fucking. The lovers. The self harm. The travel. The dead. The babies. The unborn.
In an effort to cure myself of this post industrial photographic revolution rage and sadness where the print has been rendered endangered I am posting one polaroid a day from my wall to my Instagram wall https://www.instagram.com/whoretographer
I do intend to turn them into a book alongside the vintage transparencies from my fathers camera of the 1960s and well, the state of the cock shot book but these are side projects hoping to be done by Christmas.
My need to finish this MA and well, find a funding source to eat trumps publishing these for now. Thank you for the donations and for buying my books. You are keeping this project alive until I can find a funding source.
Regrettably due to recent personal circumstances I will no longer be speaking at this event.
I have been asked to give an informal talk at the Paradigm Visuals Event to be held at London South Bank University. This is very much an event for undergraduate students to show case their work and and its an honour to be invited to speak at an event curated and organised by a group of talented photography undergraduate students.
Paradigm Visuals is an undergraduate student-led photographic research programme with a focus on photography, exhibiting and publishing based at the School of Creative Arts, London South Bank University, UK.
From May 23rd – 27th Paradigm Visuals occupies a pop-up photobook space. The group undertook a 12 weeks research project exploring self-publishing as a means of approaching photography in the materiality of the book.
Please go to their individual websites, and pay attention to their work. You can find links to their websites on the Artists Talks page.
You can register for the event here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/photobook-pop-up-shop-tickets-25533812320?ref=estw
I will be speaking on the subject of browsing and walking as photobook research methods and will discuss my belief that its imperative that photobook research material be included to form part of the final body of work.
Regrettably due to come recent personal circumstances ( just see my twitter feed if you are curious) I will not be selling the books at the bookshop but will have sample copies available for viewing and discussing.
"To them, she wasn't a woman, She was a prostitute."
This is April Brogan. I love this photograph. The effortless simplicity of it. The beauty in our fleeting lives. The everyday ordinariness of it. A fleeting moment captured. Happiness that her children will be able to witness. Photographs alter in meaning when you have a parent die when you are a child. Trust me, I know.
This is how April's family wanted her to be remembered. Much different to the way the state of Florida would have her immortalised.
I circulate these images not to use death for publicity. Although, showing prohibitions the consequences of their fear mongering does pack of powerful visual punch on the twitter. It creates a discussion. I have for 10 years been working as a commercial photographer, I understand how to edit and curate images for maximum visual effect but I also have great fears about the capacity of the internet to be archival. The internet is not timeless. It is not an archival body of work. It has no stable properties that render images safe. Images will be lost. Images are being lost. Constantly. Peoples stories misplaced in a digital dark age that has rendered photographs more fragile than ever.
The photographs of deceased sex workers who have been killed by stigma are more fragile than ever. Buried in the internet. People don't go looking for them. Lost souls. Imprisoned in the depth of a vision machine that will spit out their mug shots as a cautionary tale for good women contemplating going bad..
I am constantly bemused by the prohibitionists who dismiss the relevancy of photography to the sex work debate yet drag out images of the prostituted to tug at the heart strings and help fund the rescue industry. Journalists and book peddlers like Melissa Gira Grant who does not like to be called out when pro sex work feminists talk about selfies but fail to mention the underpinning photographic theory of the selfie.
Cleary, she does not understand photographic technique either. Over exposed photographs are a bit of a photo faux pas.
April's photograph resonated with me. In fact, her photo caught my eye because she looks remarkably similar to a friend of mine. From a photo album circa 1994 and my first days of university. April's beaming promising smile could belong to that of my best mate, Kelly. The difference is of course, my friend Kelly is a stay at home mum and April, another unexplained death of a mother in jail. Well, we know that's not that case because if people could see April beyond her work as a sex worker then the death of this women would be worth investigating. A mother dies in Jail and no one seems to care "To them, she wasn't a woman, She was a prostitute."
But its not my mate Kelly. No body likes to see sex workers smiling and happy. Nobody wants to believe sex workers can be loving caring mothers. We all have a vices and ways of self medicating but that does not excuse the avoidable death of a women who happened to be a mother and sex worker.
She looks like a wonderful mother. Her child looks loved and very much wanted and cared for. Daytona Beach Police had other photographic ideas though for the way she should be remembered. April Brogan, a 28-year-old from Palm Coast, Florida, and a mother to two young children died in custody after being arrested as part of an anti-prostitution sting, she was charged with "aiding/abetting/committing prostitution." and died in custody after they failed to provide her with adequate care and supervision.
This is the way Daytona Beach Police would have you remember April Brogan, and people wonder why I am so passionate about challenging the visual representation of sex workers.