We’ll start off with EJ Bellocq, the photographer who really got me going on this blog idea as well as influencing quite a bit of my work over the past few years.
John Ernest Joseph Bellocq (1873 – 1949) was an American professional photographer who worked in New Orleans during the early 20th century. Bellocq is remembered for his haunting photographs of the prostitutes of Storyville, New Orleans’ legalized red light district. These have inspired novels, poems and films.
Regarding his most famous work, the prostitutes of Storyville: “All the photographs are portraits of women. Some are nude, some dressed, others posed as if acting a mysterious narrative. Many of the negatives were badly damaged, in part deliberately, which encouraged speculation. Many of the faces had been scraped out; whether this was done by Bellocq, his Jesuit priest brother who inherited them after E. J.’s death or someone else is unknown. Bellocq is the most likely candidate, since the damage was done while the emulsion was still wet.”
Quite a few of Bellocq’s images are available on the internet; a quick Google image search yields dozens of his photographs, as well as a like number of imitators. These homages are understandable though; his work is intense and intimate, whether an elaborated staged scene or a simple portrait against a white backdrop.