Photography: E. J. Bellocq
John Ernest Joseph Bellocq (1873 – 1949) E.J. Bellocq’s story is as interesting as his photographs of prostitutes in New Orleans Storyville district. Bellocq was an unexceptional commercial photographer at the turn of the century who took pictures of shiping yards to pay the rent. But Bellocq had also had a secret life. After his death a collection of about one hundred plates was discovered in a drawer of his desk. The plates were portraits of New Orleans prostitutes, dating from about 1912. It is possible that the pictures were made as a commercial assignment, but that seems unlikely.
Only the glass negatives of his work survive, no actual prints were found. Photographer Lee Friedlander purchased them years later and reproduced them in the exact manner of the time using vintage paper and exposure techniques to achieve what he hoped would be the closest approximation of Bellocq’s original vision.
The film “Pretty Baby” starring Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandon and Kieth Carridine (as Bellocq) was a very loose translation of his story and that of Storyville.