New Orleans Icon (Hi, EJ Bellocq)

Storyville Prostitute by EJ Bellocq

Last I was in New Orleans, I spoke with friend, author/photographer Louis Maistros of how interesting it was that one of New Orleans’ most iconic images is EJ Bellocq’s photo of a prostitute in Storyville from the early 1900s. I’ve been obsessed with this image and photographer. ( I found it serendipitous when I once bumped (quite literally) into his crypt during an early morning hour, close to St. John’s Bayou). Bellocq highlighted his subjects’ dignity and strength, which made me think about prostitution as historically one of the only means in which a woman could earn money and declare herself independent of society’s practices. Of course, I don’t mean to romanticize the trade but there’s something to be said about doing what you have to do to liberate yourself from moribund constraints. Anyway, I believe Bellocq may have seen it this way too.

My contribution to today’s blog doesn’t possess the same meaning of Bellocq’s photos. Storyville has been dead since 1919. There isn’t a way that I could do what he did. Much has changed since then. Not to say that there are photographers out there who continue to photograph prostitutes in this manner. It’s just not what I’m doing these days. I haven’t investigated its current social meanings.

The photos below were inspired by Bellocq and his iconic photo. To me they have their own meaning independently from his (not my place to explain the definition). I’m always the first to admit the images I quote, especially when its creators have given me so much in terms of inspiration, direction and visual pleasure.

If you got this far in your reading, thanks for the time. It’s always, always appreciated.



(P.S. Realizing that this photo diary is quickly becoming a Louisiana-based blog.)

Click to enlarge.


One response

  1. Pingback: We Missed You on Friday Night « Carlos Detres Photography

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