E. J. Bellocq

From the moment Jack Wilgus introduced me to E. J. Bellocq's photos of the women of Storyville, New Orleans, I absolutely fell in love with each and every image. The women of Storyville were legal prostitutes who kindly agreed to allow Bellocq to photograph them for his own collection. All of his images are forthright and exquisitely ordinary, that's why I find them so interesting.

He was an odd, indrawn, misshapen man, hydrocephalic and a dwarf photographing ordinary women. As an outcast, Bellocq frequented brothels where he was accepted by sympathetic prostitues- this raw compassion is visible in his images and it is what makes them so powerful. There is a certain kindness with which they have been photographed, a lack of fear in their body language. Every wrinkle, every bit of fat, bones and skin is respectufully embraced in Bellocq's film. Bellocq's photographs reveal a simple frankness that runs ompletely counter pornography. He allowed each woman to choose their environment, bringing light to the tender souls of rather misunderstood ordinary individuals by way of his lens.