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The kids thought the old man creepy. He had spidery legs, walked funny and was kinda misshapen. He had been a photographer—worked as a commercial photographer taking photos of ships, machines, or whatever the heck he was paid to shoot. Now he walked around New Orleans trying to take pictures with one of those newfangled hand cameras. His name was E. Bellocq— John Ernest Joseph Bellocq.
Nobody knew very much about him. He was a quiet man, kept himself to himself—which always sounds like the kind of thing said by neighbors after they find out they were living next door to a particularly nasty serial killer. Bellocq was no serial killer—but he did have a secret life that only came to light after his death in In amongst his personal effects were about ninety glass plate photographs stored in his desk.
These pictures were portraits of prostitutes from the red light district of Storyville circa They were portraits—often featuring the same women posed on chairs or standing in rooms where they worked their trade as prostitutes. Bellocq must have had a close—if not intimate—relationship with these women in order to gain their trust and have them pose so willingly.
Portrait photography is a work of collaboration. The images are considered and composed. Other than that, we know very little about E. Bellocq and the women he photographed. What we do learn is the historical conditions—the quality of rooms and brothels—these prostitutes lived and worked in around the turn of the last century in New Orleans. Via Wiki Commons. Email Address. Red Light District. Posted by Paul Gallagher.