visual research

Fear and Loathing of Social Media ...

I have a passionate love/hate relationship with social media, I like the interconnections and sharing of knowledge and being part of a community, I enjoy sharing photographic knowledge and connecting with sex workers, academics and those who are passionate about photography but I loath the surveillant nature and the expectations that exist about free entertainment and access to free content. I am stuck in this Generation X hell of a pre and the existence of the post-internet world where I remember what it was like pre-internet and I am hankering for a nostalgic world of not being connected. I know better though than to believe the world was a better place without the internet. I thoroughly enjoy interviewing 20-year-old research subjects who know no other world than a web-based one. Who for them there is no offline and online self, it's all the same self. I have endless arguments in my head about what is it that I am doing on social media, I find the gaze of men unsettling and I have given twitter and Instagram the arse on more than one occasion. It's the first thing I ditch when I'm pissed off at the world. I have had more than one man tell me my twitter feed is not as entertaining as it was three years ago when I was tweeting about the practice of sex work, or men lamenting that I don't post erotic content or I talk about photography too much or men telling me they'd never want to meet me or I am too outspoken, too sarcastic, too something that does not fit the norm of how a woman is supposed to act online.

So, I locked my account before I jumped ship to Paris and did some webs soul searching. I don't want to give up my social media accounts, but nor can I use it the way I have been, so I have decided to turn my feeds into a nirvana of photography knowledge, after all, it's not like I do not know what I am talking about, I hold a Masters Degree in Photography and I am a second-year PhD student in photography. So, from today, this morning actually at about 7.30am my twitter feed is now solely about la vie photographique and everything photography related. Just making the decision makes me feel so much better, I feel like I am reclaiming my little bit on the webs. I also need to fund my photographic research, so I kindly ask that anyone wishing to access my social media accounts then please donate £25, you can use the button below and I'll add you to my social media network.

I look forward to flooding the interwebs with photography knowledge. I understand that this may not suit everyone's idea of the way we are meant to use social media but regrettably, I need to fund my research and I cannot do that unless I monetise my time online.

Social Media Access

Ask Yourself One Question ...

To understand the originality, the urgency, the significance, and the potential impact of my doctoral research on our understanding of the visual culture of sex work, you need to understand four things, I want you to imagine for a moment that;

1) photography has been a key advertising tool in the transaction of sex since the inception of photography in the 1800s. In 1883, The Pretty Women of Paris guidebook for English Gentlemen was published. The guidebook was the historical precursor for the modern digital sex worker website, like websites, the guide provided textual descriptions of the services provided by the sex workers and more importantly, a series of photographic portraits of the sex workers selling sex in Paris at the time

2) that photographic depictions of sex workers began appearing not long after the art of photography was born. That there are a plethora of photographic works of art that exists of sex workers as the subject matter and there is a massive complimentary body of academic literature that critically comments on the sex worker as a photographic (as well as media and cinematic) subject matter.

3) that there is also a plethora of existing research that uses photography as a tool to understand the lived experiences of sex workers. Photo-voice, photo elicitation and participatory photographic research methods are well documented and well used visual research method for academic scholars to engage with sex working communities.

4) that sex workers sex workers have been selling sex online since the 1990s, that the sex worker self-portrait arose from technological advancement and social media and although the portrait has always been present in art (primarily made by men, through men and for men), self-generating visual content by sex workers themselves has been a part of selling sex since the 1990s. Stored digitally and distributed instantaneously, sex worker self-portraits on social media platforms are now commonplace. Contemporary sex workers are in control of their photographs, this is in marked contrast to the 1980s and early 1990s when men controlled the visuals of sex work.

Now having imagined all that, I need for you now ask yourself one question;

Why in the 180 years since the inception of photography, and with everything we know about film theory, photographic theory, female representation, the male gaze (the female gaze), the impact of digital technologies, the online censorship, the hostile oppression faced online by sex workers and not to forget all the heated and highly contested feminist and political debates that rage around sex work, why WHY am I the FIRST and ONLY visual arts-based (or any other type of academic for that matter) academic that has ever critically examined the way sex worker visual depict themselves?

I need your help in funding my ground breaking original research into sex workers as image-makers and help me make academic history by being the first person to publish research into the way not how others depict sex workers, but the way sex workers depict themselves.

In addition to the research, I am also creating:

*A safe space on the internet to discuss sex worker imagery free of hostility, stigma and shame.

*The whoretography review of sex work photo books and projects with an emphasis on challenging hegemonic photographic representations of sex industry participants in the media and arts.

*A list of sex work arts-based research projects that use photovoice, participatory photography, photographic essay or photo-elicitation to study sex work communities.

*A living document detailing global photographic projects that depict a vast array of experiences within the sex industry.

*A reflexive and reflective blog documenting my doctoral research.

*A platform to promote the photographic work of current or former sex working photographers and visual artists.

*A best practice photographers guide for current sex workers that promote safe, professional and ethical photographers.

*The publication of a magazine dedicated to the discussion of contemporary and historical aspects of the visuals of sex work.

* A publishing house dedicated to the publication and promotion of Whoretography books.

*The design, print and promotion of sex worker zines and photo books.

*A bookshop of second photobooks, zines and photographic magazines the sale of which will help fund the Whoretography project.

*A program and workshop that enables individuals exiting sex work to develop the skills required to pursue a photographic career in creative media arts.


If you enjoy my writings about photography then please support my doctoral research in photography