It's difficult to pinpoint where exactly Whoretography began. I had been a wedding photographer for some time and had grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of critical thought in the wedding industry. It was evident from the beginning of my photographic career that I was never going to fit in with an industry that expected photographs to conform to a set of predefined photographic wedding rules. The rules conceived so long ago that asking the simple question of why do wedding photographers shoot the way they do was routinely met with the answer we are wedding photographers, it's what we do. I was never comfortable with that dismissive approach to wedding photography and sought a greater understanding of my craft from a theoretical perspective.
So, I began wondering about what was the actual role of wedding photography. Was I reflecting reality with a creative edge? Was I part of a conspiracy of intimacy in which my camera was acting as an agent for the falsehood of staged love? Was I in the business of creating photographic bullshit to help husbands and brides to be to convince themselves of couple cohesion and family unity?
These thoughts would swirl around my head at ceremonies and receptions. Consequently, my work took on a more rebellious edge; I started to challenge the conventional norms of wedding industry as I steered away from soft hues and romantic presets to dark imagery that began to make a social comment about marriage, feminism and the illusion of togetherness. I was subconsciously producing advant garde imagery that reflected the internal conflict I had about being a wedding photographer. Had I sold my photographic soul to a £6 billion a year industry and will my photographic archive only consist of marital photographic fluff?
Something had to give. Then something did give. I got outed as a sex worker to a wedding magazine editor, and all hell broke loose. A horrendous time of business loss, homelessness and an 18-month bout of vile whorephobia followed what was an exceptionally painful and challenging period in my life.
When I came out the other end, I was more determined than ever to be the type of wedding photographer I wanted to be. At the same time challenge convention and well, to be honest, stick a cheeky fuck you two finger salute to the people in the wedding industry who took offence to a whore in their midst. It was irrelevant that I was an award winning, published photographer who'd shot magazine covers. There was no way a clique of bloggers and editors with their cliched wedding ideas and apparent rock n roll approach to the industry was going to welcome a whore.
So, I did it without them. Fuck 'em!
When I was rebuilding my photographing career, I returned to sex work and committed the cardinal sin of falling for a devilishly handsome married client. Within three visits we'd stopped using condoms, within four he'd stop paying and then what were monthly visits and became weekly trysts. So, this is part two of how Whoretography began.
I had a longing to document the sexual encountersI had with that Battersea Bourgois married man. To photograph that connective (what felt like MDMA-inspired) Friday morning fucking that we enjoyed. A desire to shoot that feeling of how deep he was inside of me, photograph our hot entangled bodies, to photograph that look on his face as he convulsed beneath me as he came. To capture it all before we royally fucked up by making a baby.
Our affair exists now to me only as a stash of Polaroids secreted away in an innocuous metal box in my studio along with the ultrasound scan of the baby we lost. A baby who like our affair ended up as just a collection of photographs.
It's this belief that we all end up as a collection of photographs that made me, as a wedding photographer, question the role photography plays in creating the illusion of couple cohesion and marital intimacy. Made me explore the role wedding photography plays in creating the falsehood of togetherness. That happily ever after we chase. If wedding photography is a grand illusion of intimacy, then my thinking was documenting a recently married man with a sex worker is photographic proof absolute of the lies printed on the pages of wedding albums.
My married lover was my muse - well he was until he left me while I was miscarrying. Married in July 2013, he came looking for me in November of 2013. I was interested in photographing that rapport and alchemy that was absent from his marriage. Not alchemy with a husband and wife but with man and whore.
I am fascinated with documenting human connection, the courtship rituals within the confines of payment. Lovers and friends but within the boundaries of a commercial transaction.
I want to photograph the genuine intimacy married men seek out of their marital beds. I am fascinated with the hidden worlds of husbands. Steve McQueens ( I called him Steve McQueen because he'd show up riding his motorcycle, travelling all the distance of 7 mins from his home to mine), His role of the husband, was a source of fascination to me, as was his role of lover.
Moving forward, I approached a university with the idea of documenting paid for sexual intimacy as the visual antidote to the false visual intimacy of wedding photography. Whoretography has since morphed into a Masters Degree in the field of digital photography and creative media arts. It's avisual platform at the intersection of images, technologies, society and the sex worker rights movement. It's a combination of cyberethnography and visual research methods. It's an independent publishing and activist platform.
It'scalling into question the role imagery plays in the online transaction of sex and marriage. Whoretography IS the first academic, ethnographic and creative platform dedicated solely to understanding the role photography plays in sex work.