sex workers

The digital looking glass ...

I made a promise to feature the photographic work of sex workers.  To shatter the ways of seeing, looking and gazing upon their lives and bodies.  To call out the visual rhetoric that has been depicting sex workers as hapless victims since 1888 and the release of the morgue photos of  Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly.

It's fair to say that Whoretography is a digital visual anthropological research endeavour into the photographic culture of contemporary sex workers who ply their trade in a hostile and unwelcoming digital space. I could write endlessly on surveillance, the construction of oneself and the merging of our online and offline selves, and the difference between looking and gazing. However, I thought it would be to let trans and disabled sex worker Lindsey Weiss tell us in her own words what it is like to be seen and looked at through digital looking glass ...

I was interested in thinking about how my body, as a stripper and cammer, is disseminated through a variety of digital lenses imposed by my audience and my clients. It becomes an almost Frankenstein-like assemblage comprised of the ideas that my viewers have about it. Particularly as a trans and disabled person, I was thinking about how much of the materiality of my body, being subject to so much state surveillance, changes as I navigate the sex work floor.

Photographs & and the showing of face has been done so with permission from Lindsey Weiss.  To see more of Lindsey's remarkable work, please follow her on the twitter @cardiolover666 and instagram is @sister.winter !

Commerical Photographers List

 I have decided to create a commercial photographer section to the Whoretography website to help navigate the internet in finding a trustworthy sex worker friendly photographer.  This section will include;

  1. A list of sex worker recommended photographers by country/county/state, I will only accept sex worker referred photographers. No self referrals, photographers need to earn a place on the photographers list.
  2. A list of photographers to avoid based on intel received from sex workers and that includes photographers who operate perfectly respectable business on the surface but pack a hefty dose of whorephobia into their camera bags.
  3. Blog posts about copyright and other issues when it comes to booking photographers
  4. Blog posts from sex workers regarding their experiences with creating their visual marketing.

If you want anything else added, then just hell out.  This is very much a work in progress and I am doing this out of pure rage at the stories I have been told re Insuh Yoon and photography is my thing, so this is my way of giving back to the sex worker community and well, fuck that arsehole!

Add Recommended Sex Work Photographers

Here you will find the details of photographers who shoot commercial visual (image and film) content for sex workers. Whilst I am a photographer myself, I do not currently offer photographic services to sex workers.  The photographers on this list have been recommended by sex workers, I need at least 3 positive recommendations before I will add a photographer to the list, please note that I will not list photographers who self recommend or sex work clients who have decided that the are emerging photographers. 

To recommend a photographer, please provide the following information:

Photographers Business Name

Photographers Name

Photographers Gender

Photographers Website

Email Address

Telephone number (if applicable)

Twitter Handle

County

County/State

A few words about your experience with this photographer, not just about the quality of the photos but the quality of the overall experience

You can let me know this information via DM on the twitter @Whoretographer or by way of email, please use missclairekeeler@gmail.com for now.

Elusive Abstractions ...

I have learned how negatively impactful photography can be in presenting sex workers as different from and less than other people. This flows from "the power of photographs to capture elusive abstractions that one intuits before clearly understanding them" (The Tides of Mind)  Every sex worker is reduced to a few negative assumptions by the stereotypical images in anti sex work photography.
So why focus on this?  The reason is that all of the stereotyping is a kind of blindfold that enables many to ignore the fact that sex workers are first and foremost people, individual human beings like everyone else.
 

Photography and the business of sex ...

As told to Whoretography by Sex Worker Nikki Cox @NtyNikki

When I started in sex work in 1996 there were only 3 options for advertising: the local newspaper with a circulation of maybe 15,000, the city/state newspaper - in both of these we had to lie and advertise in the "massage" column and had to have a massage certificate that we had to show to place an ad and finally the yellow pages. A sex workers reach to clients was limited. It wasn't until 1998 that escort advertising had started to gain attention on the Internet when I was working in Los Angeles. And upon my return to Australia - I started a business to advertise escorts on the Internet but nobody wanted to advertise - citing the excuse that "no one will ever use the Internet to look for us" I couldn't keep the website & business running financially as I had staff to pay - so I closed it down

Within 2 years the Internet then was abloom with escort advertising sites. I was too early for such a business in Australia. Going from print media to digital media - sex workers had a much wider reach to clients in their city - state and country. We were now in the offices and the homes of clients - on their computer screens for them to look at and read about.

You could never place a photo in the newspaper so for these men to see us before they made an appointment took sex work to the next level. Years go by and sex workers go from having grainy digital photos taken by their boyfriend or friend to the era of professional photography and "branding" which at first worked awesomely! Clients ate it up and bookings went through the roof. But this era became out of control and clients - although enjoying access to so many "hot looking" sex workers - started to become disenchanted by the incredible amount of over photoshopped photos. They would be disappointed with the real person when they met them because they were not the fantasy girl in the luxury surrounding depicted in their photos - they were just ordinary women. Clients revolted and have reverted back to wanting real pics.

The demand for selfies and face photos became strong, which many sex worker found hard because they hide their face and identity from the public. Clients also wanted to read a bio that sounded humble and real not a marketing blurb about how perfect the sex worker is. Clients enjoy spending time with a real person when they know it's a real person and this is why social media rose to the top of sex worker marketing. Selfies are what clients love to see and having direct interaction on an individual basis.

Twitter has most definitely become the new red light district. A gathering of sex workers who meet, network and book clients through the platform. Clients can get to know the sex workers personality now via interactivity instead of just reading an ad. Photos are more often updated than that on an ad website because of technology - it's easier to take and upload to social media thanks to phone cameras and photo apps - it can all be done on one device. Some sex workers use video so that clients can see what they look like in action and in real life situations.

The downside of being so accessible is the impatience of the potential clients and current clients. They want a sex workers attention NOW & MORE of it. And if you aren't online to answer their messages & demands, they become abusive. Twitter is a media platform where you go from zero followers to 10,000 before you know it. And the pressure to "perform" on Twitter becomes intense. People expect you to be political. They expect you to be involved. They expect you to entertain them (for free). Twitter is a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing if you carefully orchestrate access to yourself and plan what you say and what photos or videos you release. It's a curse of you jump in with both feet with no plan as you will find yourself rolling in the mud with the others who don't control their media.

In 2015 there are more stalkers and abusive clients than in 1996 and I believe this is due to too much accessibility. We are no longer cherished for sharing our bodies with them instead clients have an expectation of having full access to body, mind and spirit in any way they see fit. Sex workers have a much harder time keeping a client in check because of their sense of entitlement. Social media has become a place where people lose their sense of reality. They forget that they are dealing with real living breathing human beings behind the handles (even when they come face to face with that personality). There is not only abuse from potential clients who "need it now" online but also those who are against sex work and lobby for its dissolution, people who hate the fact that we exist.

People don't realise how fucking lonely sex work was prior to social media because most were born into the age where technology & social media is the norm as a young adult.

It breaks my heart to see all the hate online for sex work but what did I expect?

Evolution is the survival of the fittest. I'm still here because I've worked through the hardest of times plus I'm tough and smart. I am privileged to still be relevant. Despite all the negativity, where we are in this evolution of sex work - politically and technologically - is the best it's ever been and we should appreciate what we have so intensely.