katharina hesse – bangkok

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Bangkok, November 28, 2008:

Nat , 22, a prostitute and single mother, poses in a short-time hotel.

Website: Katharina Hesse

216 Responses to “katharina hesse – bangkok”


  • Beautiful picture full of emotions. Incredible light, smooth atmosphere, the angle…Just great, Katharina!

  • Katharina,

    You know I love this picture as I seem to remember telling it to you at the time I saw it. This essay you have developed on Bangkok prostitutes is one of of the strongest body of work for me that I have seen develop on the blog. I really encourage all to check the full esssay on your site if not already done. Your pictures are beautiful aesthetically but also very tough at the same time. There is something cold, harsh in these photographs with these almost “metallic” colors of blue and green but at the same time, some have some hidden warmth with very saturated colors like in a Wong Kar Wai film (I hope I got the spelling right). I love these Katharina… You have a great talent!

    By the way, I remember you were last on a mission to get some additional street scenes while in Bangkok. I did not see any new ones in youyr essay just yet…. Any luck?

    Take care.

    Eric

  • Awesome light, great gesture, interesting subject. Wow…

  • You have a very beautiful look, I know very well your essay, I like very much your inside, your atmospheres, you knew how to get very intimate scenes, you have ressussi to establish the confidence as well with the prostitutes as with the customers, your approach is just and without judgment…
    good continuance, audrey

  • very strong image katharina!

    srini

  • Hey Kat :)))

    What a great and pleasant experience to open up the magazine and see this picture. As you know, i’ve always loved the photograph and the BKK Human Negotiations essay…though it seems you’re expanding it to Beijing right?…..i’ve always loved the wongKarWei (maybe christopher doyle ;) ) colors, and i like very much the muted amber tones of this particular photograph as a departure from the intensity of the blues of the original series….what i have always loved about this photographs is, like the portrait of the girl on the bed with the green towel or the photograph of the girl standing on the street or the photograph of the John with the girl in the bar at the table or the magisterial photograph of the old woman is it’s sense of isolation and existential negotiation…i have always always preferred the quiet solitary shots and portraits to the photographs with the sex (though they’re necessary) and I am so happy to see this photograph showcased as a way for people to get beyond the specifics of these young girls work/identity to tourists (sex workers) and begin to try to see them as women, strong or sad, fevered or lonely…..

    happy to see u here Kat :)))

    hugs
    bob

  • DAH,
    thanks a lot for posting the picture. I only discovered the “submission” category shortly before I boarded a flight to Germany, now, one day later I am sitting here and it´s there.
    If you ever find some time to look through the entire thing, I would be very grateful.

    All:
    thanks for the nice comments….

    Eric : what´s currently on my website is only an “extract” or an update…. not the finished essay. ..I am trying to work on that now….
    Bob: right…. I remember your input from spring time….. which was very helpful…
    Actually, the time we just hung with the girls , or just chatted with them by learning about their lifes while trying to leave prejudice, “concerned” thinking behind ( who says protstitution forcibally means : sex only or: show the exploitation by the pimp/mama-san , show the dirty lifestyle … etc ? )
    The characters we met in fact were quite surprising and of multiple layers….

  • Bob,
    sorry, forgot to finish the sentence… :
    The time we just hung with the girls……. (bla bla…)… was possibily the most educational one for myself but also in progressing with the photos.

  • hey kate…

    very nice to see so more of your bkk-work! what an insightful photograph! looking forward for the whole thing….

    cheers chris

  • Hi. Katharina, I would love to see the entire thing, can you post the link?

  • Katharina, any attempt at this topic has always left me wondering if there is ever another spirit to this often told story. i speculate there might be other endings, but i’ve never seen a situation so ripe to pose the question before reading your comments and viewing your essay on Human Negotiation.

    although you have icy cold colour temperatures and the backdrops always seem to suggest only a few notches from the slums, the expressions of the women are far from expressing discomfort and duress and the camera angles and emotions look more beautiful than tragic.

    Katharina, you also suggest the subjects you’ve been exposed to (not to suggest your exposure to be representative of all similar subjects)…. but the exposure you had with your subjects suggest that these women were to some extent enlightened.

    so i guess i have two questions,….. first, Katharina, it’s stating the obvious that you’ve been close to the people in the photographs, do these women want our pity?

    And question number two, is it possible that your beautified depiction of this topic could leave us to believe that the subjects you’ve photographed feel more the Victor verses the Victim?

    The exact opposite of this topic rendering for me is what Jonathon Taylor did, sorry for one more question Katharina, but how do you compare your rendering of this topic to Jon’s effort here….

    thank you in advance Katharina for considering these questions,

    -Joe

  • Katharina,
    i’m so glad i see your photo in a BURNmagazine page…
    super dope!
    Hopefully , the “dopest” magazine, ever…

  • Stunning, stunning body of work … as it was when I saw its inception on the screen everyday in BKK, at least I think it was the beginning. It has grown to be much more. Look forward to a “finished” essay but I suspect this may never truly be finished for you. I hope not, you could do much more with this over the years exploring, as you say, the multiple layers and following some of these specific women. I think “multiple layers” is incredibly important, it rises this work up into something important. The above and frames 5 and 14 on your website (i’ll never forget the collective whoa! when those came up and David and JN’s discussion of them) remain some of the strongest for me. I think it would be interesting to see more juxtapositions, contradictions and the puncturing of viewer expectations while still holding aesthetic consistency … or a juxtaposition of the color palette between their respective “lives” could be just as brilliant perhaps. You could end up with a book that has chapter changes with color palette shifts, i.e. the American flag frames in Franks’ The Americans.

    Back on point. Who are these women, really? How do they transcend what they do as human beings? How do they retain their humanity? As the above caption reads, “Nat , 22, a prostitute and single mother …,” you have a stunning image of one-half the story there. As Bob Black said, the body of work will be whole when we “begin to try to see them as women, strong or sad, fevered or lonely ….” It sounds as if you are already well on the way down this path with work unseen and likely we are just reinforcing what you already know.

    This is just incredible work Kat that deserves serious discourse. I agree, it’s among the very strongest and most important work seen here. It’s an honor to view it in progress. You are well on your way, do not stop, and in fact you now have a responsibility with the access you have attained and lives you have touched.

    So the core question is always, and most importantly here, What do you owe them? And, how do you honor that?

  • Ops. Now I understand how this goes. I enter your site and suppose this picture is from Human Negociations work in progress. Looks very good. I will follow the answers of the questions writed by others here. Just curious.

  • Herman,
    nice work…u have done !
    i dig it!
    :-)
    peace

  • Hi,
    I´ll answer tomorrow….

  • Katharina, dont the johns object to your snapping away while they’re copulating? Unless you’re a porn actor, I can’t think of a more objectionable time to having your photo taken.

  • JOE, you know the questions to ask. Please introduce yourself as I can’t identify you at Magnum; at least from your link here. The photographs here show empathy with the subjects depicted but they seem almost separated from their circumstances. I can’t believe that the profession of prostitution is a first choice but I can recognize the beauty of of a human being who happens to be a prostitute. Life is an enigma.

    Mike R.

  • Mike R !!!
    you know what ???
    … You could be right on…!
    hmmm…
    “Life is an enigma”
    I think you make sense!
    peace

  • Thats a nice portrait, great emotion and mood.

  • Akaky….been meaning to tell u for a while….my grandmom was from albany…(before she hightailed it to Fla) and have spent a number o drive by trips along the hudson….and toasseted around that quaint burb….and i’ve also always wanted to ask u if u r a williamkennedy (the writer, of course) fan?…..and this for u irish-russian whoever u r ;))))

    my mom, in Irish girl to the lass(t) just left after a week…sending u now some more Irish drunkeness…..

    “sad and weary I go back to you, my cold father, my cold mad father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere size of him, the moyles and moyles of it, moananoaning, makes me seasilt saltsick and I rush, my only, into your arms. I see them rising! Save me from those therrble prongs! Two more. Onetwo moremens more. So. Avelaval. My leaves have drifted from me. All. But one clings still. I’ll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff! So soft this morning, ours. Yes. Carry me along, taddy, like you
    done through the toy fair! If I seen him bearing down on me now under whitespread wings like he’d come from Arkangels, I sink I’d die down over his feet, humbly dumbly, only to washup. Yes, tid. There’s where. First. We pass through grass behush the bush to. Whish! A gull. Gulls. Far calls. Coming, far! End here. Us then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thous-endsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a long the..”

    runnning
    b

  • katharina–

    your bangkok photos take my breath away.
    on one level – tragic.
    on another, sheer beauty.
    i hope you can get this essay published.

  • What a striking image, Well done!

    I look forward to seeing all that is in store for Burn Magazine and it’s collective talent!

    Cheers, Jeremy

  • Truly Inspiring photo. Thank you so much for sharing this!!

    Alex Vazquez

  • lovely light and moment. beautiful.

  • The feeling tone in this portrait relates to the pose which relates to the palette which relates to the light. A remarkable photo. I also looked at every one of your portfolios on your web site and am most impressed. You, my friend, are an exceptional photographer.

  • Strong Picture, and really cool project… and kool website.. I kept it among my favorites.

  • This is in every respect a stunningly good image . . .
    The selection on your own website is also one of those that have made the strongest impression on me: each photo being a different, fresh visual and emotional experience.

  • Hi Mike R.. your Magnum reference confuses me a bit as my only association with Magnum is that i tend to type a bit over there as well.. nothing more, nothing less :-) thanks.

  • Katharina,

    I am coming late to the party (as usual) but I want to join others in saying what an extremely strong, evocative, and beautiful image this is, and how happy I am to see your photo on the front page of Burn. For once I am at a loss for words in responding to this photo (which is probably a good thing!) but for some reason it reminded me of this passage from Goethe’s Faust:

    Drum hab ich mich der Magie ergeben,
    Ob mir durch Geistes Kraft und Mund
    Nicht manch Geheimnis würde kund;
    Daß ich nicht mehr mit saurem Schweiß
    Zu sagen brauche, was ich nicht weiß;
    Daß ich erkenne, was die Welt
    Im Innersten zusammenhält,
    Schau alle Wirkenskraft und Samen,
    Und tu nicht mehr in Worten kramen.

  • Hernan :

    I ‘ll post one small edit sooner or later on my website… for the entire thing will still take a while as we have some ideas…

    Joe : I am not sure if there’s only ONE “often told story”.It rather seems to me it’s a rather wide topic that can be photographed from various angles and that presents itself differently depending on where you live and how you see it. What, for example, have Guilio de Sturca’s “Brothel City” (www.lightstalkers.org/galleries/contact_sheet/15906), Marcello Bonfanti’s dragqueens ( http://www.marcelbon.com)or Lauren Greenfield’s “Bunny Ranch” photos in common with those by Nick Nostiz or Jon Taylor other than their subjects are women who sell themselves ?

    Maybe what’s been associated quite often with prostitution in media or rewarded as
    “ good” in some contests are the (negative) “ highlights “: the assumption that ALL prostitutes per se operate in an illegal environment, they must be drug addicts , suffer, are smuggled in from other countries … do their job against their own will …ect. ..and you as the photographer “give them a voice” ?
    If those standards represent “ the often told story” that we all know about already my project is a total failure.

    “ …..the exposure you had with your subjects suggest that these women were to some extent enlightened “
    Not really. They simply accepted to be photographed , or let’s say they were at ease to a certain degree .

    “And question number two, is it possible that your beautified depiction of this topic could leave us to believe that the subjects you’ve photographed feel more the Victor verses the Victim? ”

    hm…. not sure . I simply took pictures of them without paying much attention to beautification and without prior preparation. This said, it helped certainly that quite a few among them are quite pretty by nature…I didn´t do anything to make them look better than they do.
    Why though would this make the girls feel like victors ?

    Tom :
    These women want my pity ? Why do you think they would need my or anyone else’s pity ? Possibly one of the factors that resulted in the pictures I shot was that I simply followed their lifestyles and tried to respect them without judging or projecting some pre-conceived ideas on them and the mere fact I didn’t look at them from a potential customers’ angle, no rush either (which is quite different from the workshop) … last but not least : respect their vulnerable sides as well. That’s what you owe them as a photographer I think. They are not “ your “ subjects.

    Akay : the men are pretty much unidentifiable in my pictures which is part of the deal, or more precisely : it’s the reason some did agree to be in the pictures . The few frames where you can see their full faces indeed have been removed due to privacy concerns. This said, while some men totally objected to be photographed, others, especially younger ones, have been quite encouraging.

  • Sidney,
    that fits pretty well !

  • Hmmm, I didn’t use the word nor intend to imply pity in any way …

  • Tom,
    sorry sorry..I confused your comment with Joe´s!

  • SIDNEY…

    well, well, you are back!!! you are probably going away quickly again however, because i am just now ready to post Panos’ Venice Beach…awww c’mon have a look….

    by the way, i will be in your territory soonest…i am taking you to lunch or dinner or whatever you want…pleased you are around again..we missed you…

    cheers, david

  • KATIA…

    i am looking for you!! let’s please talk soonest about a story on you and your kids…..up for it??

    cheers, david

  • riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend
    of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to
    Howth Castle and Environs.
    Sir Tristram, violer d’amores, fr’over the short sea, had passen-
    core rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy
    isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor
    had topsawyer’s rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse
    to Laurens County’s gorgios while they went doublin their mumper
    all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to
    tauftauf thuartpeatrick: not yet, though venissoon after, had a
    kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet, though all’s fair in
    vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. Rot a
    peck of pa’s malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory
    end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface.
    The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-
    ronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur-
    nuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later
    on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The great fall of the
    offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan,
    erse solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself prumptly sends
    an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes:
    and their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out in the park
    where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since dev-
    linsfirst loved livvy.

    No, I haven’t read William Kennedy; I generally don’t read living novelists and it seems rude to ask them to drop dead simply to accomodate my quirks. I am a fan of Joyce, especially Dubliners, Portrait, and the more understandable parts of Ulysses. Finnegan’s Wake stopped me dead in my tracks, though. I’m not sure why not, butte ich kann nicht anderstand nunavut–eye cod pushkin oot oeuf de whey 4 the halibut & gogol at dose hoot ken gaiter watt joys seis bee caws oy hef noclew.

    “Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit.”

  • DID SOMEBODY SAID: “VENICE BEACH” ???????

  • Deal or not, their scrotums must be a deep shade of blue if they agreed to do what comes naturally with a working photographer in the room.

  • I am not sure to have understood everything well (I use the translators !) but how some know him(it) here, I worked for 3 years on a free prostitute in France too, and I can assure you that she did not want my pity, nor her friends, but to be considered as normal persons ! For what I saw of Katharina’s report, it is freely made, there is no procuring, who are us to judge these women who chose to prostitute themselves to live? I do not say that if they could her, they would not change a profession, but at the moment it is their reality…
    I also think that the fact of being a woman makes the photographic approach different, there will be no desire between them and us, they can confide more easily…

    Katharina, I love your photography !

  • David et al,

    I never really ‘left’ but must confess I have been ‘on the back burner’ the last several weeks- work, survival necessities, holiday obligations, a few personal dramas, and a bad toothache have all kept me from contributing actively. But I’ve been reading bits and snatches of the dialog all along, and following the birth of ‘Burn’ with quietly smoldering interest. In fact, I have been incubating a long essay on the subject of ‘burning’ which I hope to post here in the next few days. But this afternoon I am all tied up. Back sooner than later, if not actually ‘soonest’. Cheers, all!

  • Katharina, this image is so strong and deep, the light nicely shows a little but not too much, there is way enough to imagine anything… I am eager to see your essay here, let’s hope…

  • Katharina, thanks for the response…. using generalisations when speaking of topics or approaches is always a risky short-cut, but fortunately you confirm you know exactly what i mean by ’often told story…’ when you say:

    Maybe what’s been associated quite often with prostitution in media or rewarded as
    “ good” in some contests are the (negative) “ highlights “: the assumption that ALL prostitutes per se operate in an illegal environment, they must be drug addicts , suffer, are smuggled in from other countries … do their job against their own will …ect. ..and you as the photographer “give them a voice” ?”

    this does some up exactly what i was describing Katharina, thanks for confirming we are speaking of the same story…. as far as enlightened, my definition or the actual reality of the individuals may not agree; but it’s too difficult of a concept to explore this way, so let’s let that rest.

    with regards to your references, Lauren Greenfield’s Bunny Ranch is a trophy piece of photojournalism… it’s a surgical, unadulterated and a very insightful piece of pure documentary. there is no victim or victor represented in these images, it’s rendered as honestly as an occupation,.. as an occupation when there are alternative occupations available far before we encounter Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

    Giulio Di Sturco’s Brothel City is interesting, thanks for introducing it to me Katharina ….it takes Laurens’ unadulterated photojournalism and colours it with artistic approaches that don’t prevent it from being documentary; but at times it seems more an autobiographical experience than general-documentary…. for some reason it makes me think of the master Antoine D’Agata, and because of this you wonder what logical conclusion Giulio plans to take his piece…. but back to the point, probably because both efforts in this area seem so autobiographical, they seem to evade the victimisation story you describe above Katharina.

    i also mentioned pity, not because the answer was not clear from the images, but i was keen to be certain of your feelings as well Katharina…. as you describe both on their behalf and with your own moral compass,… there is nothing here to pity and there is not a message of pity in any of the images, so you are succeeding very well on that front.

    you ask me why i might think they are victors? it’s simple Katharina, like you said, they don’t want our pity, you don’t think there’s any thing present to warrant pity….. and to take this view to the logical conclusion… these are just gainfully employed individuals…. that alone would make them victors in that economic climate, but there’s more….

    Katharina, you say:

    “I simply took pictures of them without paying much attention to beautification and without prior preparation”

    …this is true, but your choice of composition, exposure, and after that, your edits,…. or more specifically, the images you choose to promote,… these of course form your message Katharina… and it’s a message that seems far more deliberate than you just being there to press the button on what you see and then let the chips fall where they fall.

    it must be a much more talented effort than you say Katharina, because i’ve never seen an edit of images that render so beautifully, so sensationally, so voyeuristically, this topic…. all the comments that have spilled in so far confirm how beautiful this piece is.

    and although you’ve not tried to make these women beautiful at work, Katharina you’ve done better,…. through your framing decisions and exposure settings, you’ve made them look gorgeous and pleased with their work, and like the image above, you’ve often put them in a superior and sometimes almost ecstatic states while doing their job, your effort essentially celebrates this profession and it’s for this reason i feel you have rendered them as victors Katharina.

    i’m really looking forward to how you develop your message on this topic Katharina.

    Best Wishes,

    -Joe

  • Audrey,
    I remember your thoughtful work on the prostitute in France and share your opinion on being a woman photographer … a Thai friend who has worked with me on the project for most of the time also came up with a similar remark once.

  • Joe,
    Hm… “beautification”…….again . I am rather uncomfortable with these remarks (there was a similar one earlier on this year “elsewhere” describing another picture of the project : “The image is carefully lit and composed with consideration normally reserved for fashion photographs” )

    Quite honestly: I very much think I only “press the button” without much deliberate consideration for composition , effects .Technically I am too “uneducated” &too too unpatient by nature to give much thoughts about these things. We work with what we have in terms of situations. Lengthy considerations on what frames I want to get exactly, how I want to make these girls look beautiful, how to lit them …. or a list with shots I need ….do not exist ( I tried here and there but it doesn’t work like that) . It’s nice to work with surprises and/or improvise with what you have and just go with the flow…in fact, why go out there and concentrate on pre-conceived ideas …while letting a dozen other photo-ops go unnoticed ?

    Guilio: would be interesting to hear what he has to say .

    Yan : thanks…. Let’s hope… indeed, there’s no need to show “ everything”.

  • Very nice angle and gesture , proper light, mood and atmosphere …
    Thank you for sharing your nice photo, Katharina.
    Hope to see your essay on Burn. :)))
    Kyunghee Lee.

  • Thanks again Katharina, your such a good sport for letting us explore this project.

    i understand your wish not to have your documentary work blessed only as fashion photography, but it’s a tremendous compliment before we even hear that you are not trying to make it so… this speaks loads to your photographic instinct. The fashion connotation might be an issue if it was only fashion photography, but i don’t think it will devalue your final product to have this attribute, because the topic has far more dimensions than pure product promotion.

    and i’m sorry, but i’m finding it really hard to just say ‘best wishes’ on your project Katharina; it’s far too fascinating for me. i hope you don’t mind exploring it a bit more…

    if you hadn’t offered it up here in an exploratory platform like Burn, i would totally leave you in peace, but i hope you take my fascination as a compliment and i hope it’s a testament to the fascination that most people have for this project as there is nothing personal about this project for me, purely general appeal, strong but general.

    i guess the fascination for me comes from the fact that you truly are busting through a prevailing road-block on this topic, not necessary because others have not tried it, it’s because i don’t think they succeeded in creating a mainstream success of celebrating it, Katharina i think if you take this all the way, you may do just that.

    you have managed to secure the photographic proximity typically reserved only for directors of pornography. i’m not saying the images you’ve collected are this Katharina, but your proximity can be compared only to this.

    some documentary efforts implicate the photographer as they must be as close as family (e.g. Anton’s Sugar)…. but you transcend implication Katharina, your images are of a human exchange where someone’s presence is typically an invasion… that is unless they were getting paid to allow you to invade the act or the act was pseudo-fiction as it is in pornography.

    so it’s stating the obvious, but your graceful presence is extraordinary Katharina. You manage to be so close to the act without creating inhibition. Even the pros in the industry have a hard time with this invasion, especially if there is flash photography involved, so it’s amazing that you’ve managed to succeed purely as a documentary effort of the real-life act.

    this grace you possess will surely open doors to other places that the camera was believed to inhibit and will yield loads to your future as an extraordinary documentary photographer.

    But grace is only one attribute; bold seems equally applicable to you Katharina…. your approach to pitching this project as documentary is very brave. Let’s admit the obvious here; this is a dark theme in the context you’ve chosen.

    if you were to create the same portrait above using the same profession…. but in Las Vegas, where the occupational alternatives are more prevalent, and the policing of the profession makes it more safe, and the healthcare is more advanced,… well you could likely extend the caption above to “single mother, owner of a red SLK convertible, and both of her children’s college funds are fully funded after three years of effort…” I even know of such a person.

    But in this ‘Vegas-context’ some of the erotica your images benefit from is dissolved, because part of this archetypal erotica needs a dash of oppression, and whether it’s true or not, there is a perceived oppression in BKK or other developing countries for the same reason we don’t have similar feelings for the profession in Vegas. So again, romanticising the profession in a developing country is a dark theme and you are bold to take it on Katharina.

    I suppose some might not agree this essay is a celebration and you are not romanticising it; it’s just an interesting documentary of a profession. But if the story is so polarised from pity and the emotions we collect seem to be more of beauty, the result of the story will seem something that is moving in a positive way.

    Again, Katharina, I think you may create a paradigm shifting piece of work if you take the ‘polarity of pity’ all the way through the essay; and again i’m really keen to see how this story develops.

    Kind Regards,

    -Joe

  • Stupid,
    thanks for NOT asking for permission before posting the picture !

  • I included a stupid link to the original image here, as is customary. You’re welcome.

  • Stupid,
    I am very much used to be asked BEFOREHAND . But never mind.

  • Since it matters so much to you, next stupid time I’ll ask.

  • And honestly, I seriously doubt you would have given permission to some Stupid Photographer!

  • Ok. S.P. you’ve done it again… you’ve decreased the chance of us having an un-emotionally charged exchange on a topic.

    Mental Note to SelfOnly discuss something with S.P. when you’ve explored it fully,.. cuz S.P.s like a bull in a china shop.

    Well ‘All’… we didn’t have to wait long for the drama to arrive at Burn, it’s coming from two directions now.

    Please remember. YES… it’s only the internet, but the exchanges here are supposed to be powered by real humans, not cyber personalities…. so for the love of gawd… everyone please act human even if you are ‘just on the internet’ ….and… at least in this house,.. if you don’t understand something ask more questions, please resist the urge to condemn.

    So, with all the defences being raised we may never know what Katharina’s intentions are or the direction she planned to take this unfinished project.

    Katharina, the only way through this is to rise above it and continue to explore this project as if this event was incidental,… if you clam up now, it’s not going to favour you later. If you feel strong about your work you should be able to speak strongly about it.

    So to prevent this discussion from ending this way can you please let us know more specifically how you’ve managed to get so close to the individuals you photograph without disrupting them, or how you feel about romanticizing this topic in a developing country or maybe a bit on where you plan to take this work.

    Thank you in advance for responding Katharina,

    -Joe

  • “But I — being politically incorrect — I find [it] fascinating because I hate the so-called PC thing. I think that’s one of the things that’s damaging our generation at the present time. Everybody is taking themselves and everything so seriously. If they just relax a little more and take themselves and everything else a little less seriously, they’d have a lot more fun.” – Clint Eastwood
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Movies/12/29/eastwood.gran.torino/

  • Ok S.P. let’s test that theory..

    do you think Katharina’s appetite has grown or has all together been lost by throwing manners out the window?

    when your post arrived Katharina seemed to respond in ‘seconds’ to the aspect of manners…

    …you post again.. and again seconds later another response evidencing Katharina is ready at her keyboard to respond, but again not to defend her work, only to recite manners.

    i don’t condemn your approach S.P… if we were chatting in person you know i would actually prefer it,… it is much, much, much, more efficient.

    ..but i learned an interesting idiom since i left the States.. ‘Horses for courses’.. it basically means what is suitable for one person or situation might be unsuitable for another..

    and if Katharina chooses to clam up then the wrong horse was used to do well on this course.

    there’s a valuable incidental lesson here… because as communities like this become more familiar they will naturally act more familiar,.. you would think this provides the risk free benefit of efficiency i described above, but that’s a fallacy.

    the more familiar individuals behave, the more unapproachable it can seem to a new comer, this is where this connotation of ‘love-in’ comes from.

    The only remedy for this stigma is to be extremely welcoming to anyone that walks in the door, this is why people like Panos are so priceless, his efforts are gold-dust to any budding community seeking to attract other like minded people that want to explore complex topics relating to photography or show us the photographs that we want to see, but wouldn’t any other way.
    ..

  • Anyone able to make pretty pictures in a whorehouse should be able to ignore or get over my stupid posts and get on with life. If not, well, that tells us a lot, does it not?

  • Oh, and this place is called Burn, not Coddle.

  • Interesting discussion which has emmerged. I wont way in with a trecherously long comment, and i’ve talked with Kat down this path last year, when she and I publically and privatedly talked at great length about the BKK/prostitution project that began as part of a workshop she’d attended with David and Jim Nachtwey.

    The issues that Stupid Photographer raises are important considerations that I know Kat has wrestled with and she and I have spoken about in the past. It is fair game to discuss MEM’s work vis-a-vis this project because any photographer who hopes to dedicate a long and in depth project considerning social and human issues needs to be aware of the countenance the work will draw. I know Kat is aware of that and I look forward to hearing Kat articulate her feelings about this.

    Given the solitary nature of the image (removed from the context of the story) as well as some of the more (for me at least) important photographs from this story and the interviews with the young and old women that Kat has spent time with, it is easy to criticize (and legitimate) the nature of the project. The fact is that Kat and I have chatted about other prostitution projects before (including MEM’s work) and I think that what Kat has and is struggling with lay at the heart of these issues. As I have also told her, the centrifugal collapse toward the sex photographs paint a peculiar dimensionality to the story that is wholly different than the one i have seen, and maybe it has to do with the images that are shown on Kat’s website, I dont know. I think Joe raises interesting questions, though I also feel that he’s lost sight, amid an overintellectualizion of the imagery vis-a-vis the content and story, of what lay at the heart of the project.

    Stupid Photographer’s link to the story (here at burn) on his website is the manner in which he/she often “speaks” about work. I think Stupid is interested in a dialogue, a conversation and I think Kat you shouldn’t take his opinion (or the comparison) personal. We talked about this at great lengths last year with regard to WPP and when I was the only photographer to publically speak on behalf of the work. I think it is important too that you engage Stupid. I think there are many who might react to the “beautiful” surface of the photographs, the “cinematic” qualities of the imagery (color, light, framing, etc) as upsetting given the content and the nature of these young women’s lives. All of these are legitimate topics of conversation and ones that Kat is able to speak about, as I know she’s wrestled with them.

    Call me optimistic, but i think that if we all place more importance on the content of the lives we’re documenting than the importance of our work or “theories” as photographers, we’d all grow more enriched.

    Burn is about dialogue and discussion and agreement and dissent. For me, all i care about from this magazine is that challenging work is shown and that thoughtful, engaging dialogue comes forth. Stupid photographer may have a stupid way of communicating, but his voice is worthwhile.

    as a photographer, what i value best are those, ill manners or not, who have something insightful or thoughtful to say. the world is filled (including the photo world) of long diatribes which essentially mean nothing, or arrogant better-than0-thou mentalities (i’ve seen both), but what is critical is that I know that not only is Kat a talented photographer but an intelligent and thoughtful person. I hope that she returns and talks to Stupid. Stupid may not like or consider the work more than dandified pagentry but I know he will listen to thoughtful conversation.

    We’re here not to be afraid, but here to bridge the chasms of empty banter….

    and, yes, have some fun too ya’ll…

    ok, that’s enough from me of trying detante….

    running
    hugs
    bob

  • Stupid Photographer,
    Anyone able to make stupid comments on burn should be able to respect thoughtful posts and get on with life. If not, well, that tell us a lot, does it not?

    Oh, and this place is called Burn, not Stupid.

  • STUPID,

    How smart do you think you are by posting a naked child on Internet ?
    That kind of images could bring you far beyond where you wanna go, (http://www.ncjrs.gov/, http://www.fbi.gov/publications/innocent.htm)… and this is not smart at all…

  • well said Stupid, stupid cheap photograph.

  • Peter,
    which particular photo is “stupid cheap”?
    what is your definition of “cheapness”?
    peace & hugs

  • reading the comments I am getting sick, “lovely light and moment. beautiful” and so on.
    how much did you pay her? or let it say like this: did she get a financial reward? (at least)

    first world photographer meets third world model, take some third world pictures, to make yourself more important in some hot burning photo magazine.

  • Anonymous,
    with all the respect,
    please do not involve the FBI, the Army, the police,
    the Fire department (especially the latter…! ) or any other authorities…
    smiling…
    we can resolve our miss communications in a peaceful manner… i hope…
    (… look who’s talking… i know, i know…)
    i’m laughing out loud at myself right now… i am the ambassador of peace in the blogworld…
    ok, i need a beer… fuck , its only 10:33 am …in LA

  • Stupid,
    how do you know I would not have given you permission to post the picture ? In theory, provided it doesn`t get polemic and it is lead without accusations or fast conclusions , a discussion on what you consider “art” versus documentary or pj could be interesting ( difficult thing to do on the internet I admit ).
    The nice thing about this blog has been that in fact it´s open to ALL kind of styles / genres etc. , to amateurs as well as professionals….
    It was a relief to meet DAH ( and his colleague) one year ago in BKK and get an eye ß opener on what else you can do in photography apart from sticking to old formulas.
    I do not quite understand where your irritation comes from. You seem to conclude that I didnt conform to any “traditional” pj guidelines =therefore this ONE single picture means = art and it must be condemned ? I dont have a brain ????
    I dont quite follow.

    Your input on lightstalkers was something I used to look out for like many others … but man ,over here it seems you seriously want to honour your pseudonym stupid ???? How /why all of a sudden ???

  • Anonymous, chill! ALL images I post on my stupid blog already exist elsewhere on the web. The first photo by Mary Ellen Mark is on her website, and I linked to it on my website. Here is the entire series:

    http://www.maryellenmark.com/frames/falkland.html

  • “how do you know I would not have given you permission to post the picture?” – Katharina

    I said I DOUBT you would give permission. I did NOT say I know anything. I’m stupid, remember?

    “a discussion on what you consider “art” versus documentary or pj could be interesting” – Katharina

    Not to me. It’s either art or not, pj, documentary, whatnot are categories that do not interest me. They’re name tags on the shirt, not the body under the shirt.

    “I do not quite understand where your irritation comes from.” – Katharina

    Anonymous said it better than I could on my stupid blog:

    http://stupidphotographer.blogspot.com/2008/12/revolutionary.html

    “I think you are spot on in your comparison [to Mary Ellen Marks photo]. The first image [by MEM] hits like a sledgehammer. You can see the pleading for help in the eyes. I looked through the rest of the set, and felt almost sick, along the same lines as Mary Calvert’s “Lost Daughters” collection.

    Take away the caption, and the second image [yours] could be a perfume ad.

    I’ll ignore the rest of what you said. It strikes me as beneath you.

  • The quote above by Anonymous ends after “perfume ad.” The last sentence is mine. Sorry, left out the end quote.

  • Stupid,
    you compare 1 picture ( without even knowing about the background/circumstances etc ) out of a project that I have even not finished and compare it with a documentary photographer story ?

    “Not to me. It’s either art or not, pj, documentary, whatnot are categories that do not interest me. They’re name tags on the shirt, not the body under the shirt ”
    = your opinion.

    I remember you seemed to be irritated too when critizing some “unorthodox ” choices in WPP this year, because they were not “pj” , right ? Now, who are YOU to decide what´s right and what´s wrong ?????

  • Um, the discussion here is about your one picture posted here. Should I stupidly consider your entire career each and every time one of your images is discussed?

    “I remember you seemed to be irritated too when critizing some “unorthodox ” choices in WPP this year, because they were not “pj” , right ? ” – Katharina

    Wrong. Post a link to that stupid statement by me if you believe otherwise.

    “Now, who are YOU to decide what´s right and what´s wrong ?????” – Katharina

    We ALL have the right to decide what is right or wrong. Otherwise, who the hell does? YOU?????

  • Crap. Left out the “ONLY” in the last sentence. Meant it to stupidly read: ONLY YOU?????

  • “Now, who are YOU to decide what´s right and what´s wrong ?????”

    he decides for himself.

  • Stupid,
    ok…. so by replying to you I become the attention seeker ? ( My suggestion was NOT to educate yourself on me,unimportant, but possibly on the background of the picture and under which circumstances it was taken ). Never mind. You, decide what´s right and wrong…Stupid posts a picture without permission . Fine. As Peter says: he decides for himself. Stupid is right.
    Good luck with your beliefs.
    I prefer to withdraw here.

  • “ok…. so by replying to you I become the attention seeker ?” – Katharina

    WHAT? I have NO stupid idea why ANYONE would read that into ANYTHING I wrote here. I said NOTHING about “attention seeking.” I’d NEVER stoop that low! Get a grip, please, and READ, instead of surmising nonsense.

    And I did the stupid legwork for you regarding WPP. Here is what I said:

    http://www.lightstalkers.org/wpp-winning-photos-by-francesco-zizola

    Feel free to withdraw. But it’s a shame. Been an enlightening conversation up to now. Thanks for that, from the bottom of my stupid heart!!

  • In photography, there is NO Right or Wrong…there is only Right or Wrong in terms of behavior, period. Wrong Behavior (vis-a-vis photography) is 1) using photography to exploit a subject, without consent or consideration (since in truth all of photography uses real lives, real people, real moments, real suffering, joy, faces etc) of the lives and the reprecussions of the images or 2) purposeful disingenuousness with regard to the act of photographing people and situations 3) no real responsibility or acceptance of responsibility for the work and its effect upon the lives of subject, or 4) not wearing a scarf; ))))…of course there are a whole host of other ills, but this argument is not only insulated but circular…photography is, a priori, an exploitive tool, the question is how is that tool harnessed? This is an ethical debate that each and every photographer should have (though unfortunately most never do, let alone countenance or contemplate it). We are rife with images and mostly we deem the world and others appropriate to be photographed (horrid thinking) because of our undying clinging to of personal autonomy or self-expression. The problem is that there is, or should be, an ethic by which all photographers (be it documentary or ‘art’) negotiate this difficult, ambiguous and complex question.

    Awareness and consideration is a major start. Beyond that, it is not my cup of tea to question the morality of another picture taker. I know enough photographers whose work is brilliant but I have no desire to spend a nano-second chatting with them. I also know remarkably “ethical’ photographers whose work is lousy and uninspired or also even lapse into moments of vulgarity (who doesnt?) when it comes to this issue.

    I love and admire MEM'[s work but i’ve also heard her say things to other people that make my toes curl, ditto another well known photographer (PJ) who basically slogged off the entire continent of Africa as “backward, unthinking people” (i shit you not!). The question question that each photographer and each reader must address is a simple one:

    what is my relationship to this photograph/story, and how does that fit within my own continent of expectation and ethic. I would never say that MEM’s work is less exploitive than Kat’s (this is a totally spurious argument), but that the 2 photographers have a very different ‘visual’ approach. I know personally that Kat also spent and spends a lot of time with these women in the hope to “tell their story”….one can argue with the “appearance” of the image as being, well, like a perfume ad (not my thought but someone above), but one can also argue that a story that entails a situation only from the point of squalor also is a westernized patronization of a culture or people most already care less about or get all they know about from imagery to begin with (the classic NG problem).

    In the end, the ONLY legitimate discussion about work is does the work fit within each viewer’s understanding of what that moral obligation entails…all thoughtful photographers struggle with this and loose sleep (i do) and all one can do is be as open and as forthright as possible: with admirers and critiques and the public….and most of all with the people who are being photographed…

    derailing work and ideas based on a moral position is clearly ill-gotten commentary.
    ….

    the photographers who i respect the most are those who are most open, most open about their working methodology, their working principles and their expression of their failures…

    moral principle is born not of a discussion on a blog or in a magazine but into the content of an individual’s life affirmation and arrangement….and that is a place i have never believed i’d the ability critique, but for my own imperfect life…

    running
    b

  • Ok, since Katharina and S.P. are having their own tit-for-tat…

    Bob Black, you are exactly right when you say this:

    I think Joe raises interesting questions, though I also feel that he’s lost sight, amid an overintellectualizion of the imagery vis-a-vis the content and story, of what lay at the heart of the project.

    but you are correct on only two aspects of what you say, ironically the least complimentary for me (1) i’ve over-intellectualised and (2) i’ve lost sight.

    Only on these two points are you absolutely correct Bob.

    i’m guilty of applying too much intellect Bob because i know for a fact that in BKK, and no less than a dozens others places like it that i’ve been to,…. well basically Bob, i know for a fact that i can collect what looks like a soft-porn essay for the price of a flash-gun.

    what i can’t do is put captions like ‘single mother’ under the pictures i collected this way and say it’s not an essay about pity, i also can’t pitch this essay on this topic from a developing country in a way that it would be most marketable for Hustler magazine, but wish it made its way to National Geographic.

    so to validate the second point you’ve made I Am Lost Bob. i don’t want to think we are just the victim of a ‘sex-sells’ interest factor. i’d like to believe there is something deeper, so i’ve approached this as delicately and respectfully, and unfortunately as verbose as i felt necessary to avoid sounding stupid or rude, or disrespectful. But i am still lost.

    Ok, Bob, let me ask the stupid question… and to salvage the last part of what you say above Bob,… What lays at the heart of the project..

    Bob, what is this project about? Please nail this one Bob; it’s important that you don’t talk around it.
    ..

  • I second that question, Bob. And because I clearly do not have a stupid idea why Katharina is doing what she’s doing, I’d LOVE to read it answered not just by you Bob, but by her as well.

  • You’ve nailed what i am wrestling with here Bob…

    no real responsibility or acceptance of responsibility for the work and its effect upon the lives of subject

    Except we’re talking about rendering pretty much any developing countries’ prostitutes in a way that they could equally sell perfume when they’re not selling sex… do that in Vegas, but not in BKK or any developing country, or plan to do it knowing it will have consequences to public opinion of what’s more generally happening… and make very sure you didn’t do it with ‘compensated’ models.
    ..

  • Joe: :))

    ok, straight up. I’ve seen the series in it’s entirety as well as images post the BKK workshop. The story (forgive me Kat for talking about images that are not currently on the website) is about the entirety of the life of the young women and old women who have worked in this profession in BKK. Of course, not a new story, but what is. The story contains photographs and interview with women who are not only engaged in prostitution now but have been in the bast. For example, Kat has interviewed and photographed an Older Woman who spent her youth as a BKK prostitute and (hiv positive) is not living in isolation but for the girls she helps “mother” and love. (did i get this right Kat?) Also, the story contains photographs about the girls lives away from the short-time hotel. At the heart of the project is the story of how these young women (mostly from villages far from BKK) live and struggle in bkk where they are seen as desirable, beautiful sex objects (mostly for tourists) but remarkably isolated, including within the community of workers) outside of that. The ‘pretty/fashion’ pics or the sex pics in the short-time hotel are a part of the story. As i’ve told kat and written here (and at the blog and at WPP blog/foto8), the sex pictures get all the attention and in this sense, im on the same fence as Stupid and Kat knows that. I think the sex pictures are a part, but what i need from the story is the lives away from the street and the INTERVIEWS 9which kat has)…

    for me, the project is about the lives of young girls and the isolation of their lives, especially as they get “too old” for the bars….

    the key to this story, for me at least, is the old woman that kat has spent time with and has phtoographed and interviewed as well as her relationship wtih these young girls…but, im jumping ahead here…

    the overly focus on the sex-pics does, as you correctly point out, lead to a problem with the story as it appears…and i’ve chatted with kat about this for more than 1 year…maybe it is the idea that sex photographed so close is why they still titilate or why there are so many of them, kat will have to answer that. for me, as a viewer and as a photographer, i am interested not in the sex in the hotel but in the girls lives and also how this plays out after their life as a prostitute has ended…

    1 pic cannot do that…and that is why i did not write a long, intellectualized commentary about the picture published here……but, i’ve also cheated by knowing more of the images that are not on the website…i think when we approach work we must try to understand what is the story, successful or failing, that the photographer is attempting to tell…Pity is not the feeling i get from this work, but compassion, because the starkness of the idea (for most) of the sex trade oftens overemphasizes the ‘uniqueness’ of the lives, instead focusing on the horror instead of the existential….

    make sense?…probably not joe, ’cause im tired and fighting a major flu….

    and i need to just say that i welcome your “intellectualization”, you are a passionate, intelligent and thoughtful gujy and i enjoy reading your comments, but i think you too easily draw conclusions that are fomented by your own intellectual understanding…shit, i do the same….words sometimes numb instead of power…i know too, i squander too many myself ;)))

    cheers
    bob

  • “the photographers who i respect the most are those who are most open, most open about their working methodology, their working principles and their expression of their failures…”

    Bob,
    I have understood that and I respect it. You talk, write, criticize and analyze photography a lot. I think at some point isn’t there a risk of overanalyzing things? I agree that “documentary photography” should be talked about, but any story out there today has it’s fans and haters. There’s something unethical, explorating, boring, copied, sick, twisted, crappy, horrible, fantastic, amazing, beautiful, b&w, colour, film, digital or plain bad about virtually every story.
    I am sometimes getting the feeling that we’re writing and overanalyzing a bit too much instead of actually looking at the images without starting to “read” them immediately.

    Cheers

  • “i am interested not in the sex in the hotel but in the girls lives and also how this plays out after their life as a prostitute has ended…

    1 pic cannot do that. – Bob Black

    One pic can do that. The one I posted on my blog, by Mary Ellen Mark, does exactly that. In the girl’s face I can see not just her present, but also her end. The one pic posted here by Katharina Hesse fails in this regard, completely. Anyway, that is the way it hits my stupid eyes, soul and heart.

  • ha ha. Finally, some sense.

  • I agree with S.P.
    Looking carefully the MEMark photo i can see clearly the “message”.
    In K.H’s above photo i only see the commercial side. Selling perfume or soap or sex or anything.
    Western eye exploiting the third and fourth world.
    S.P, you do not sound so stupid after all

  • To be fair, I better cough up what exactly it is I see in the image in question.

    I read it saying: “I’m on the brink of ecstasy. I want you. I desire you. Come hither and make passionate love to me. I’m hot and ready for you.”

  • Thanks Bob, this is helpful. As you suggest the images made available for human negotiation do not resemble the story you describe, only the images that suggest something far more shallow, so i hope you understand how i might get lost. Thanks for the customised response though! :-)

  • Wow.

    I can’t believe the sniping going on here.

    First of all it is Katharina’s project, her eyes, her vision, her point of view. Photographers all tell stories in their own ways. Usually not everyone agrees with that vision or point of view.

    Discussion and commentary are very useful tools, but lets remember that nobody here is absolutely right.

    My suggestion is in the future to post your opinion ONCE and maybe make a clarification in a later post id some readers are misinterpreting your statements. After that, let it be. If you really don’t agree with the way a story is being told, get a plane ticket and go shoot it yourself.

    If everyone that is going back and forth here was spending their time and passion shooting instead of arguing about something that may not have a resolution, there would be an abundance of exciting and compelling images being created.

    Just my two cents. Im going to go out and make an image.

  • ok… ALL…
    NEW ESSAY ( ANGELO G.) is up…
    check it out…
    also see the first comment there…
    (“the return of the Trolls”)
    ;-))))

  • LenaS.

    I am wondering what would you Think if you didn’t know that this first picture is Mary Ellen Mark??
    What is the message on first photo and is not on second? I know there are made by different medium- one by film secon by digital camera, everybody see that, but Katharina’s picture could be a part of the same series as first one if it could be made on film.
    And yes, “Western eye exploiting the third and fourth world”…. so what you are doing here?

  • I get the impression that most people here like to read their own comments. the ones who don’t go with the commune opinion are “trolls”, (normal in the net), funny.
    same thing all over with photographers, they show their work all around, when then somebody does not agree, they start to cry. just keep your work hidden in a box if you are not able to stand the opinions of the viewer.

    just read what the photographer said:

    “Quite honestly: I very much think I only “press the button” without much deliberate consideration for composition, effects. Technically I am too “uneducated” & too too unpatient by nature to give much thoughts about these things.” – Katharina Hesse

    the result: a photograph with any soul, even worse, like I said before:
    reading the comments I am getting sick, “lovely light and moment. beautiful” and so on.
    how much did you pay her? or let it say like this: did she get a financial reward? (at least)
    first world photographer meets third world model, take some third world pictures, to make yourself more important in some hot burning photo magazine.

  • “If you really don’t agree with the way a story is being told, get a plane ticket and go shoot it yourself.” – Pete Marovich

    Sigh. I read this way too often. Pete, for Pete’s sake, do realize this blog exists so that we all can DISCUSS. We can hardly discuss if we shut up, now can we? Everyone here is clearly trying to contribute to the deep understanding of our craft and art. Most of us do indeed get many plane tickets and shoot ourselves. That is clear to any stupid bystander. We are here, spending our precious time and energy to build upon what already exists. Please do not mistake verbosity for stupidity, waste of time, or any other such demeaning attributes. Thanks!

  • Peter hi,
    when i referred to the “trolls”…
    i meant the “anonymous” backstabbing…
    or hacking… or identity fraud that just happened to me on the new “essay” post…
    i personally have no problem with anyone trashing my work… please go ahead…
    thats what i was also telling cathy on the venice thread…
    bring it on, any criticism or opposite opinions super welcome…
    its just, the identity hacking that is too “trollish” for me…
    “… creating a robot that speaks “for” me… aint right…
    all that
    peace & hugs

  • “get a plane ticket and go shoot it yourself.”

    that’s a funny argument. if I don’t like the book I am reading, I have to write my own book?

  • Peter, again,
    feel free to ignore me, but what do you mean when you describe the above “photo”
    as “cheap”???
    is it the actual photo you dont like or the photographer herself ( 1st world photog meets 3rd world ,etc …)
    still confused!
    with all my respect
    peace & hugs

  • Double Sigh.

    If I was Katharina or any other photographer on here I would just submit it and explain it if it needs be and then move on and forget about it. If everyone else wants to argue about what it means or the “right” way to do it then I would say rock on. Let the work speak for itself and continue on and create more work.

    Anyone here ever see Art by Yasmina Reza? Whoosh!

  • “If I was Katharina or any other photographer on here” – Pete Morovich

    You mean if I WERE? You’re not, nor can you speak for anyone else but you.

    “If everyone else wants to argue about what it means or the “right” way to do it then I would say rock on.” – Pete Morovich

    Only ONE person spoke about right and wrong, namely Katharina Hesse, and she was promptly put in her place about it.

    “Anyone here ever see Art by Yasmina Reza?” – Pete Morovich

    Yeah.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasmina_Reza

    What the hell does an actress have to do with this? Over my stupid head. Please explain. On second thought, don’t!

  • Martin :)))

    couldnt agree more…and i actually shoot even more than i analyze photos ;))))…i write during down time during the school day (before school, during breaks, lunch, on the subway)…and im a writer (and working on a book of essays about photography: go figure ;)), )…but i shoot all the time too, only i dont talk about that here, ’cause here i just support or “talk”….incidentally, im a pretty loose shooter too, which i guess you’ll see and visually and verbal ridiculously verbose…my point originally was to try to 1) bring a discussion between Stupid (an intelligent photographer) and Kat (an intelligent photographer) and try to ‘write’ about the other issues…by the way, i look at pics all the time, and a number of time before i write anything (and i know kat’s work since i’ve talked to her about it quit eoften)…but, i agree 100%: we all overanalyze….but, what is important is discussion about what we do and why….ok, now running, literally, home..

    talk more later martin :)))

    cheers
    bob

  • Stupid makes all blogs insignificant like himself… If I were Kat, I would want him to choke himself in a teaspoon of water…

    ART??? Ha, ha give me a break….

  • “If I were Kat, I would want him to choke himself in a teaspoon of water…” – Anony

    I have nothing but stupid love for you too. Live long and prosper!

  • “To be fair, I better cough up what exactly it is I see in the image in question.

    I read it saying: “I’m on the brink of ecstasy. I want you. I desire you. Come hither and make passionate love to me. I’m hot and ready for you.” – SP

    dude, is that what the women you’ve seen look like when they’re on the brink of ecstacy?? looking away sadly and lonely and dreaming of anywhere but here? no wonder you took such issue with the photo.

    sorry SP, i just never saw anything close to ecstasy in her expression. and still don’t even after you introduced those ideas.

  • Well, sorry, can’t help but see what I stupidly see. What do you see?

  • And if looking away sadly and lonely and dreaming of anywhere but here is what you see, so be it. Clearly your experiences do not mirror my stupid ones.

  • I have to add one more stupid fact. My mother is dying of cancer. My brother was killed day before yesterday. My niece was kidnapped a week ago, in Asia. I view things though a stupid filter that differs from that of most rest here. Peace to all.

  • SHIT! Meant to say my brother was NEARLY killed. SORRY!!!

  • Stupid Photographer
    December 29, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    I have to add one more stupid fact. My mother is dying of cancer. My brother was killed day before yesterday. My niece was kidnapped a week ago, in Asia. I view things though a stupid filter that differs from that of most rest here. Peace to all.

    S.P… i dont know if you are sarcastic here, but sorry about your mom or if you feel stressed out or angry..
    the “pain filter” you just mentioned unfortunately is something that most of us here also share…
    there is lots of pain in my life too… believe me…
    you are not alone…
    peace & hugs

  • SP, you gotta give it a rest, dude. Go spend time with your dying mother, if she truly is dying. Why are you wasting your time on the internet? Why are you wasting OUR time??? Life is too short to be an asshole all the time. Go tell your mom you love her and start figuring out how to forgive whoever made your heart so black. Nobody’s gonna give a rat’s ass about your problems if you make them hate you first….everybody’s got problems, bro.

  • Chris, I’m at my mother’s side, have been for weeks. I’ve been telling her I love her all my life. My stupid heart is not black. If you believe mine is, examine yours, please. Why am I “wasting my time” here? Because life goes on and I feel like being a part of it, no matter the sorrow I feel. Happiness to you.

  • “the men are pretty much unidentifiable in my pictures which is part of the deal, or more precisely : it’s the reason some did agree to be in the pictures. The few frames where you can see their full faces indeed have been removed due to privacy concerns. This said, while some men totally objected to be photographed, others, especially younger ones, have been quite encouraging.”

    Katharina, this comment bothers me a great deal, and I can’t believe I heard a PJ say this. I’m relatively new to the profession, so I may be wrong, but how is that not compromising your ethics? You cut a deal for privacy, in effect giving the Johns a form of payment, in exchange for allowing you to shoot? You removed frames where the faces were visible?

    I’ve always been under the impression such tactics are inappropriate. Either you take the shot and deal with consequences later, or you don’t. Setting up an arraignment where you get full access in exchange of some form of benefit, in my opinion, places a cloud over the entire set.

    Like I said, pretty new at this, but that’s how that comment struck me.

  • I need to ask james nachtwey and david ?

    Why are you not accept her work in the first sixday of the bangkok workshop in 2007 ?

    In the first her work is not look like this ?

    She just made it in the lastday this stories call ” short time ” ( Katharina how much did you pay to her ? )

  • so a “female” photographer pays a “female” prostitute but not for sex! just to pose ! but isn’t it the same as paying for sex? What a shame!

  • Weena i know very much what you saying, i was there also in the workshop 2007

  • Brian Frank,

    And how would you deal with it ? come on, those are not pictures of daddy’s birthday, being one of the customers how would you react being displayed on the internet, full face on ? You are new to the profession, I guess that you will learn that a lot of deals will have to be done during your career… This is not like covering the Groundhog’s day :)

    This is amazing how sex topics is making trouble inside your minds, those girls have harsh lives for sure, they’ve accepted to pose for Kat, I guess that they knew what was the aim of the pictures… She didn’t sneaked the pictures, she had her agreement… If you cannot bare sex, misery and so on, you should better not look at pictures about those topics…

    So why don’t we stop to take pictures in developing countries then, whatever picture that you take, you are still coming with your 1st world eye in a 2nd or 3rd world country, you will always, you cannot change it, you are a lucky boy leaving in a country where you don’t starve, where you are not affraid to receive a bomb on your head when you go to buy bread… We should have a new international laws at borders, no pictures allowed for foreigners, cameras taken by the immigration…
    If you react like that, all pictures made by PJ’s should be banned, do you have a look at pictures taken during wars ? Starvation in Darfour ? Hurricane in Burma ? I personnaly don’t like to see dead people’s pictures, they couldn’t agree, but here the situation is a little different I think…

    Then, all the buzz about that picture, the problem I guess is that it is not displayed inside the essay in which it belongs to, then you would see that this is not a picture for a perfume ad. This picture is nice plastically speaking, doesn’t mean that her situation is nice or whatever… Why prostitutes would always have to be shown in dirty places in a dirtiest and very dramatic setup ? Don’t they desserve to be shown in the best way that it could be? What would you say if that picture would be from a model ?

    NORMA,
    and why the girl couldn’t receive money for posing, are all models seen as prostitutes for your ?
    When your president goes to a event, he receives money, is he a prostitute ? You pay to listen to your favorite singer, is he a prostitute ? While she’s posing for a photographer, she cannot work, thus cannot earn money, so I find quite normal that she receives (and we don’t know, maybe not) a little money…

    I don’t know what is your experience of 3rd world countries, but the little that I’ve seen is that struggling to find food and pay the rents, no possibility to afford medical care is another story than having a big stuffed turkey for christmas while opening the stupid useless presents in front of a warm chimney… You are right, let’s be more 1st worlders, never ever give money to poor people, they could get rich…

  • May be this stories will better if it did not pass David and James ?

  • Weena,
    “Why are you not accept her work in the first sixday of the bangkok workshop in 2007 ?

    Correction: Every participant showed his /her work to both tutors on a daily basis. I am not sure what you mean by being ” not accept(ed)”. Some pictures made it into the final edit, others did not. This was the case for every participant. The edit from the workshop in 2007 ( posted on DAH´s former blog along with the work by some other participants such as Kloie Picot, Lara Day, Tom Hyde, Christian Kaiser, James Chance..hope I didnt forget anyone) was produced throughout the ENTIRE WEEK and NOT only on the last day as your post indicates.

    In the first her work is not look like this ? ”
    Does your “like this” refer to the picture taken on Nov. 28, 2008 ?

    She just made it in the lastday this stories call ” short time ”

    Correction: See my reply above . I´d be curious to know how you came to your “insights”?

    May be this stories will better if it did not pass David and James ?

    Weena, not sure what you mean. “The” story has NOT been published yet. Maybe we are talking about different things here ? I started this project during the 2007 BKK workshop ( as you mentioned the workshop stuff was called “short-time ” ) and made 4 more trips to BKK in 2008. Currently we are working on an edit that neither you nor anyone else on the blog has seen yet. The few pictures on my website are updates from previous trips that I uploaded just to keep some people interested in seing some new pictures updated.

    “Anonymous” :
    “Weena i know very much what you saying, i was there also in the workshop 2007”.
    Please read my reply to Weena .
    PS: there were no anonymous participants ….

  • Sure would be nice if you’d find some quality time to answer Brian Frank. Joe would seem to like an answer to it as well, not to mention my stupid self.

  • Norma why so sensitive.? Prostitution is i think legal in Asia. Why is there any problem of paying someone a small fee to pose for you ? When you do a portrait or headshot for your portfolio don’t you give your model a print or buy them lunch? Isn’t this also a form of a payment? I do not see any wrong in paying the prostitute if this is legal in that particular country. I detect abuse only if the westerner just exploits, makes money and not pay anything at all in return or pay peanuts.
    If Katerina payed the fee or gave the little girl a generous tip then good for her. Everybody wins.
    My 2 cents

  • Stoop, I’m so sorry to hear about your mother and your brother. I lost my dad four years ago and no matter how much you know the worst is inevitable it is still a shock when it happens. I wish I knew the right set of words that would make your troubles a little lighter, but I don’t and I don’t think anyone else knows them either. I trust that your niece will be returned safely and soon, and so lighten in some small way what I do know is a burdensome time for you.

  • Akaky, the best wishes of many must have helped! A few minutes ago we heard from my niece. She’s shook up but now safe and sound! My bro who crashed his car because of black ice is still in hospital but out of ICU and seems he’ll make it. My deepest gratitude to all who sent out good vibes. Made my stupid month!!!

  • Stoop:

    having just put my mom on a bus home, and spending 8 days trying to comfort her through her own difficulties, i send you metta for all the healing that is possible, with regard to December. I’ve always felt October and May were better months. i’ve done the salsa-dance upon the black-ice dance floor a few times myself in days when i was young(er) and wild(er)…

    as Dad-akaky mentioned, no way that words assuage but only in the fact that one comfort must be that none of us are immune to all that passes away…weeding kneed deep in life as also always been my ‘comfort’ past sorrow…it’s all we have, life, until it vanishes…quicker than expected…

    here’s hoping SPA can grant you some time away from the boardroom ;))…we all struggle to keep the head afloat, time to ditch the M9 ;))

    all the best
    b

  • Thanks Bob! Glad you stopped running long enough to send out your thoughts, much appreciated! And may Stupid Photographers Agency make us all rich in 2009, Lieca M9 or not! ;-)

    But enough of this thread hijacking. Katharina, still hoping you’ll answer Brian Frank’s thoughtful question.

  • Katharina, this comment bothers me a great deal, and I can’t believe I heard a PJ say this. I’m relatively new to the profession, so I may be wrong, but how is that not compromising your ethics? You “cut a deal” for privacy, in effect giving the Johns a “form of payment”, in exchange for allowing you to shoot? You removed frames where the faces were visible?

    I’ve always been under the impression such “tactics” are “inappropriate”. Either you take the shot and deal with consequences later, or you don’t. “Setting up an arraignment” where you get full access in exchange of some form of “benefit”, in my opinion, places a “cloud” over the entire set.

    key words here are,
    cut a deal,
    form of payment,
    tactics,
    inappropriate,
    setting up on arraignment,
    benefit,
    cloud.

    well spoken mr Brian Frank.
    i attempted to “defend” Katerina in my previous comment regarding her “payment” towards the prostitutes. Sex or just photographic pleasure is not illegal to ask ( as long as you pay and as long as Thailand considers prostitution legal )
    but i can clearly see now that this was a compromise on the ethics of the photographer.Here in the west part of the world we are used to be buying everything with money. Please dear photographer, go
    back and show us a different approach but no money, fees or gifts should be involved this time.
    You know you have the talent. You do not need to buy it when you can earn it!

  • Hi Stupid,
    Sure, I will …. I hope though you can accept that I am dealing with a similar issue in my family as you do at the moment with your mother ( I arrived back home in Germany a few days ago , I am normally based in Beijing).Very sorry to hear about that btw ! I can`t spend too much time at the computer, but will gradually catch up.

    Hi Brian,
    “I can’t believe I heard a PJ say this”….. actually, I consider myself a photographer, not a PJ. What´s considered PJ these days has become quite confusing as the whole industry seems to be in transition ( maybe worth a discussion later on ?)…
    re my ethics: sorry, seems there´s a misunderstanding: the privacy concerns first popped up after my second trip in February which was sponsored by a European magazine. Some men in my pictures were fully recognizable and I didnt ask them for model releases. Now, the mag as well as my agent were concerned there could be potential law suits in case someone changed his mind. When you are in a fun mood in BKK maybe you agree to one thing, however back home with family or your employer,… cough cough… you never did “that” ? And the last thing you need is a pix of you and a lady in a short-time hotel or in the redlight districts published in a magazine ?
    That´s the reason why we removed all identifiable (sp?) pictures but one. Maybe try to imagine that many guys you meet there are Western/Thai business people, guys on holidays with families back home, family men just seeking some unofficial fun etc… To crash in there with the conviction that you have every right to use your own pictures afterwards without paying any attention to what dammage you may cause to those guy´s lifes strikes me as a bit egoistic or unappropriate. If the men and the women trust me and give me access , why then would I screw them around ?
    (btw: the – deal, sorry in fact I mean agreement with the women was : No pictures can be used in any pornographic publication/websites -sounds funy, but it´s a major worry in BKK among the ladies-, lifestyle mag , book and exhibition ONLY).

    This said, my original idea for the BKK workshop in 2007 was to document the private life of a prostitute…. well, after my super hero ( who even fullfilled all cliches : drug addict, prostitute, single mother from the slums) disappeared on day one, I started scrambling around, took pix of couples outside , followed one girl in the slum who then disappeared too…..and weirdly ended up in the short- time hotel at the very end. I am very happy despite the messy beginning during the workshop – that during the past year I managed to concentrate on the girls – even if it all turned out differently from what I had originally planned…and in the end found a single mother with a kid.
    This has been an experiment that so far I wouldn´t label as PJ or anything else.
    best,
    Katharina

  • My deepest sympathy, Katharina! Sending best vibes to you and your family!

  • Public Defender, i’ve always considered myself able to understand most things, but for the life of me i can’t understand what you’re trying to say, can you try again?, i’m trying hard to follow you, but i cant? :-(

    i think your sarcasm is causing a double negative, making some things that you mean to be negative actually positive?

    It just seems a bit tangled, can you try again?

  • Actually, i think this is a dead topic now, so you can go back to your non-anonymous life now P.D.

  • “Please dear photographer, go
    back and show us a different approach but no money, fees or gifts should be involved this time.
    You know you have the talent. You do not need to buy it when you can earn it!”

    if you have personality and character, you don’t need money.

  • First of all, we´re talking here about a single shot, not about a finished project or essay. That is the way the picture is presented, the context is Katharina´s caption. I guess there were reasons to present it that way. Second, yes, sex sells. Atavistic behaviour, but still a fact. Yes, the girl in the picture looks sexy. The picture can be used for an advertisement campaign. Would that be so wrong? I guess the girl would be quite happy if she only had to sell her look to an agency instead of having to sell her body night by night to strangers. Further: would the girl feel better represented if she was portrayed half naked, dressed in rotten clothes, sitting in a mess of used condoms – ok, maybe most of her clients don´t like condoms that much – with some rats nagging on her bare toes? Only to fit into some stupid first world photographers scheme of third world prostitution and to fulfil their desires for the cliché? Btw, other people´s miseries sell as well as sex, maybe also atavistic. Further more, would that help the girl? Would that make her life in any regard easier or better? just some questions, but after all this talk about the ethics of a photographer I missed the essential thing: the respect for the subject. This respect I can find in Katharina´s pic as well as in the work of MEM, but hardly in the discussion here about who´s the truest of the only true defenders of true photography. MEM did a great job, but she did it thirty years ago, and doing a project about the same topic in the same style would be nothing but generic.
    “Asha hates being a prostitute, but she doesn’t know how else to survive. She dreams of being a servant. I asked friends of mine whether they would hire her, and they told me that, while they themselves wouldn’t mind, their other servants wouldn’t tolerate her being in the same house with them.” quoted from here: http://www.maryellenmark.com/frames/falkland.html, via http://www.flickr.com/groups/onthestreet/discuss/72157604149886497/page3/
    thanks benny.
    So if one really wants to help those girls, hire them. housecleaning or ads, for most of them everything is better then what they´re doing now. Or donate to school or caritative projects. But don´t bark around which is the only ethical way for a photographer and which is not.
    Btw, distinguishing first and third world on a territorial base as large as a continent or country in our days of deregulated markets under the dictatorship of the global cash flow seems a bit narrow minded to me. you can find total misery pretty close to absurd luxury in every major city around the planet. Bangkog, erm, Venice Beach, and I´m pretty sure also in Helsinki…. But now I´m running of topic.
    OOps, while i was typing a common sense not to end the year arguing entered the thread. How nice! So all the luck to all, and a peaceful 2009.

  • Peter,
    if you if you have personality and character…what about fully identifying yourself ? Same Peter as yesterday ?

  • “if you have personality and character, you don’t need money.”

    Peter, are you talking about Katharina or about the johns?

  • nice to see you pop up over here Erik! have a killer night tomorrow ;-)

  • katharina

    whatever is going on, as a single image, it’s a beautiful photograph and you want to know more.

    anne

  • Hey Anne,
    thanks…. happy to hear you want to know more ( about the girls I assume ) ….

  • “would the girl feel better represented if she was portrayed half naked, dressed in rotten clothes, sitting in a mess of used condoms – ok, maybe most of her clients don´t like condoms that much – with some rats nagging on her bare toes?” – erik neufurth

    Interesting concept. I didn’t realize we photographers were working to make our subjects “feel better.”

    “Only to fit into some stupid first world photographers scheme of third world prostitution and to fulfil their desires for the cliché?” – erik neufurth

    Even more interesting. You mean the cliché is bogus? You mean the BK whores are larding it up in extravagant luxury and decadent opulence?

    “Further more, would that help the girl?” – erik neufurth

    How many times has photography ever helped the particular subject depicted? I’m sure there is at least one but I have not heard of any. Anyway, I thought photography was about depicting. Didn’t realize it was supposed to be a direct quid pro quo charity organization activity. Learn something stupid every day.

    “MEM did a great job, but she did it thirty years ago, and doing a project about the same topic in the same style would be nothing but generic.” – erik neufurth

    Did someone insist on MEM carbon copying? Must have missed it. Personally, what I’d like to see is someone building on what MEM did. Taking it a step further. Finding a new direction instead of making generic sexy snaps. But hey, I’m stupid, so probably an idiotic idea.

    “you can find total misery pretty close to absurd luxury in every major city around the planet.” – erik neufurth

    No doubt. And I’m sure you can make sexy snaps in any whorehouse. So?

    “all the luck to all, and a peaceful 2009.” – erik neufurth

    Same to you!

  • my dear s.p., do you always feel personaly attacked when somewhere the words stupid and photographer appear? you must be a 24 hour typing monster then :) i used plural form. and also don´t see the need to read twice what i´ve written once. if you´d like to see something that goes a step further than what MEM did, why don´t you suggest what this step could be?
    btw, that Phan Thi Kim Phuc is still able to speak is because the fotographer took not only the shot.
    http://www.antifab.de/custom/Vietnam01.jpg
    so what, real life is calling, and also i want to collect some nasty brothel shots. no problem, thanks to the web i don´t think i have to leave the house.

  • Attacked? With words? Puhleeze. Shoot a stupid gun at me, then I’ll feel attacked.

    Why don’t I suggest how to shoot in a whore house in a way that builds on MEM? Sorry, I don’t do whore houses so I don’t feel qualified. Never even been in one, let alone with a camera. Paying for sex strikes me as idiotic. Working in that environment would demolish my itsy bitsy wittle sensitive soul.

    And Phan Thi Kim Phuc was not saved by the photo, she was saved because Út took her and the other children to a hospital:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Phuc_Phan_Thi

    Have fun with the brothels on the web.

  • Yan

    “And how would you deal with it ? come on, those are not pictures of daddy’s birthday, being one of the customers how would you react being displayed on the internet, full face on ? You are new to the profession, I guess that you will learn that a lot of deals will have to be done during your career…”

    I’m perfectly comfortable with the response and explanation given by Katharina. So for now, the argument is mute and hypothetical. In the hypothetical, if the Johns said I could photograph them if I promised to not show their face, I would try to find some other shot, or simply do without. You are not there as an advocate for the Johns, you are there to capture a story.

    Katharina, thanks for taking the time to clear that up. If you continue with this story, I would really like to see some more emphasis on what life is like for the girls when they are not working, even if you have to focus on just one to do it. What’s home like? How did they come to be on that path? Are they supporting family members?

  • i don’t really want to get into this too deep and have avoided doing so until now.. for what reason i know not..

    okay..
    this photograph does not make me feel uncomfortable until i realize who the subject is.. after which it makes me feel like cringing.
    i have read much of the commentary and ‘get it’ from both sides, so i guess it’s time to make a stand. (yeee haa)

    as a photograph – lovely.. beautiful lights.. nipples.. blahblablah.. seems pretty shallow to me.
    as a phgotograph of the subject as i understand it, makes me feel unwell.. ill at ease.. and not for artistic reasons.. it kind of makes me think that this represents of PJ tourism.. zoriah taking people to the ‘3rd worlds’ and letting them loose on people who are suffering in an obscure way to people from the west.,
    it’s a photograph taken with a beautiful understanding of light and compesition and yet without a complete understanding of ethics and intent.

    i may be told this is part of a series and it may be the case that the series tells more – i do not know since i cannot find it online.
    as a single image with the caption as is i think it is naive and MEM has done better IN THE MOMENT.. and maybe thats why she is mem..
    no?
    then lets have a fight (respectfully)

  • I strongly disagree that Nat’s pose looks sexy and that this picture could be used in an ad campaign, and I don’t understand why it needs to be repeated. What perfume ads are you people looking at? Is there one out there called ‘Sad Young Single Mother Prostitute’ that I didn’t hear about? Do you guys see that there’s a face in the picture and not just softly lit breasts? Look up, at her face.. I just do not see sexy. I see sad, vulnerable, lonely, trapped (the closed in wall helps with the metaphor), suppressed, dreaming of anywhere but here, and beautiful (a far cry from sexy). I read it again so I wanted to say it again.

    Lance

    SP – sorry to hear about your mother and good on ya for being by here side. although that was the weirdest time/place to present us with that info. still, best health and happiness to all.

  • but if you go home with one of them and the grandmother doesn’t want her picture taken, then maintain your ethics and leave.

  • i think that what most photograph is what they see from within themselves.. what we see of ourselves if you like.
    philosophically, and without knowing or having ever seen kat, i think the photographer of this work has trouble seeing beyond physical beauty.. and representing abuse without contrived artistry. if i am wrong i would love to see more work.. as i cannot find the essay online.

    now.. if that doesn’t kick up a storm i don’t know what will.

  • i think it’s absurd and unfair to rate this picture with the one from MEM. two different moments, two different messages, two different styles, two different pictures altogether.

  • yes, quite, but surely trying to carry the same intent?
    i’m certain that the sues for each image coul,d be completely diffrent.. perhaps not advertizing.. yet.. you know?
    photography as a provoker of feeling needs to be addressed as well as accumplished technical ability..
    if there is irony or paradox in a piece of work i hope to see it..

  • i mean to say that it is not enough to say the comparison with mem is ridiculous.. which perhaps it is.. who knows..
    perhaps the production of this image needs a greater statement .. which i have not found, though i may be corrected.
    to me it remains well lit titillation, until the caption is read, when it becomes somewhat darker and guilt inducing,..
    is that the point?

  • i don’t want to speak for Katharina or MEM here, but i just don’t see the same intent at all. at least in their two pictures that are vaguely similar (one single dark skinned, dark haired prostite, topless, taking up most of the frame – that’s about all the similarity i see). MEM’s indeed is like a sledgehammer as someone, i don’t know who, put it. does the picture above look like Katharina is trying to hit you with a sledgehammer?? not to me. and therefore i can’t understand the comments that say MEM has already done this and better.

    the fact that there has been this much attention on this photo makes it hard to deny that it is one that draws you in. it makes people want to know what is going on. so… hopefully when Katharina is done with this project then you will indeed look at the rest and hear her message.

    as for finding this work in progress you can go to:

    http://www.katharinahesse.com/main.php –> NEW –> Human Negotiations (there’s no direct link due to the flash site.)

  • katharina will have to answer that. i didn’t see it that way, but still that’s a question for her.

  • ok, last words from me too…..the issue with Kat’s photograph (and the series) is not nearly as black/white has continues to be painted. Same can be made for MEM’s Falkland Road. Ok, so y’all know where I come down on not only this issue but the entire series (what is on the website and what has not yet been shown)…as well as the murky area of ethics that have been all too easily bandied about….when one photographer questions the ethic of another photographer based on a single photograph, I get very very uneasy, because it’s not only proposterously patronizing but, more to the point, unqualified. As i tried to write above, the discussion of photographic ethics CAN NOT (not ever) be argued based on the visual appearance of an image, without having understood, known or listen to HOW the photographer worked with the subjects, photographed them and conducted herself. As i’ve told Kat above here (and in private) the best and ONLY thing she can do is to try to explain openly and without shame her relationship with the women/project, her working methodology, her principles and her hopes for the project, as well as (if she feels fit) to offer some insight into her subjects reaction/thoughts about the work.

    But i’ve already written enough about this issue, so I wish to offer something else for y’all to consider.

    Take the work of Norman Jean Roy. I accept (assume) that all of you now making a case against kat and who’ve chimed about the way a photographer deals with prostitutes, in this case BKK prostitutes, known the work. Roy’s new book Traffik and his accompanying exhibition in NYC this fall was a “highlight” of the autumn (not my thoughts, but others)…..

    Ok, so Roy’s book Traffik and the images:

    http://www.condenaststore.com/VanityFair/ProdDetail.aspx?prodId=25450

    http://fabricmag.com/fabric-magazine-art/norman-jean-roy/

    and the irony is (isn’t it lost on anyone?) of how these seemingly sympathetic images and book about Cambodian prostitutes is shown in an exhibition and during a moment at huge “parties” in nyc….this is an interesting analysis of the party:

    http://www.curatormagazine.com/christytennant/reflections-on-norman-jean-roys-traffik-exhibition-opening/

    and by the way Norman Jean Roy is a famous fashion photographer (http://www.art-dept.com/artists/roy/)

    I actually have a very complicated reaction to both the book TRAFFik and the imagery (which is very different from his fashion work), but the reason why i bring all this to y’alls attention is this:

    the issues attendant are much more complicated that have been argued here….accusing Kat of being “without a complete understanding of ethics and intent.” or ethics is really quite depressing…

    decent and thoughtful photographers can have legitimate problems with the images but calling her ethics into question not only undervalues what her work hopes to accomplish but more importantly makes a distinction about another photographer simply on the ‘makeup’ of a single image….

    again, the ambiguity and the problem of this kind of feast (below) begins with the way we behave, including how we react to others work….

    http://guestofaguest.com/nyc-arts/norman-jean-roy-brings-traffik-to-milk-gallery/

    b

  • i was being sarcastic brian. i know it doesn’t come through online though. no, you don’t leave, you work around it. see, you make an agreement with the grandmother and you don’t photograph her. this project isn’t street photography where you shoot first and ask questions later, and thus assume that you’re capturing some kind of higher ‘truth’. this is long term personal work.. documentary storytelling.. where you come back again and again and you need to build relationships and earn trust. so, you don’t photograph the grandmother if she doesn’t want it in the house, and you don’t photograph the men here that katharina has agreed to not photograph. and if the almighty book of pj ethics tells you otherwise then it’s time to realize that book isn’t all-encompassing.

  • Sorry Lance, I didn’t take your comment as literally to leave. I took it as general comment to find another avenue of approach, not as sarcasm.

    As for your point about building trust, that should be built with the focus of the story, the girls, and if the story continues, with their families. If accomodations are to be made, it should be to them. If they don’t want you photographing the Johns, then don’t photograph the Johns. It might interfere with their work by scaring the customers away, moreover, interfering with the accuracy of what was happening by being an influence on the story.

    Sorry – I’m groggy. Hope you gather what I’m trying to say. I think we might be pretty close.

  • David,
    I am partly baffled, partly amused by all the comments “search for deeper meaning ” re ONE single photograph ( “excerpt” out of a 1 year project that so far has NOT been published ). More towards the beginning of this thread I posted a few links to other newer projects dealing with the same ( or as in Marcello´s case : similar) topic.
    The only reference I see keep coming up here though is MEM…. why ? Or why not for example : Giulio de Sturca ? Why not Lauren Greenfield ? Why not Marcello Bonfanti ? Or , although yet another different approach : Antoine D´Agata ? Somehow I am under the impression that quite a few posters here seem to refer to the same old recipees . Why ? What´s wrong with trying out new things ?
    In fact, why is there this innate assumption that all photography must be seen/judged through (conservative )PJ eyes or otherwise it´s dismissed as PJ tourism ? I clearly stated before that this project has NOT been a PJ excercise ? In fact,there´s been a lot of encouragement from some PJs whose names we will not post here.
    Maybe have a closer look at some photographers who are with Agentur Anzenberger, Contrasto , Grazia Neri…you may come across quite a few projects that you´d qualify as “PJ tourism” that in fact are not….
    best,
    Katharina

  • Brian,
    yup.. initially I was out there too to see what private life is like etc… it´s not that easy though..one of the women that I thought I could follow for a longer time ended up in jail ( we didn´t get permission to photograph her there) ….. another one , who in theory is fine with having us coming to her home, keeps pooping out of touch as her mobile phone ends up at the pawn store more often than you can imagine….

    Now, one other BKK participant ( who is a freelance writer and photographer) and I decided to team up to take this project again into a different direction…..It certainly will irriate some “traditional” photojournalists..but then that´s not what that I care about. We´ll keep you posted.
    Best,
    Katharina

  • Bob, Katharina has repeatedly stated that her work on this project is “not PJ.” Now, you know well and I’ve repeated it here, I don’t subscribe to labels in photography. It’s simply art or not. But Katharina does subscribe to labels, given she is excluding herself from one of them, namely PJ. So what is this series? Is it art? If so, what is this one image here about, other than beauty? I mean, except for those of us who recoil in horror from the “perfume ad” feeling of it, others praise it for its “incredible light, smooth atmosphere, the angle”, “great gesture,” “a very beautiful look,” and so on. I am stunned that you can post a link to the description of the obscene show opening scene of Traffik, yet don’t seem to make a connection between its disgusting room full of ignorance and the similar, though vastly less revolting reality disconnect represented by Katharina’s image. Perhaps I’m simply too stupid to understand but it’s beyond me how someone can go to a whorehouse with a mindset of specifically not making PJ work, come out with pretty pictures and be dismayed when some of us toss our cookies because of the result.

  • Fair enough Bob, you are correct, this is getting way too confusing. but if we are closing down a topic i helped to incite, then let’s make sure i’m a monster for the right reasons.

    for me this has nothing to do with ethics, i don’t subscribe to the holy war that’s going on with P.J. and ethics, maybe because i’m not a P.J. for me this only has to do with logic., logic as a simple as a ‘If P Then Q’ construct or more specifically, ‘event’ then ‘consequence‘.

    Katharina is putting fact based comments under her images:

    ‘Nat , 22, a prostitute and single mother, poses in a short-time hotel.’

    so i’m inclined to take what she says ‘and shows’ as fact and not an artistic rendition of fiction.

    this is a developing country, No? all the images in Human Negotiations are beautiful and their marketing message to ‘come enjoy our (BKK) prostitution’ seems more pronounced than a message of pity.

    we don’t need to guess this message Bob, we’ve read the prevailing response to the images, Katharina mentioned already with unease they were described in the past as fashion and Katharina has confirmed with passion there is no intent for pity with these images.

    so how will this message impact our opinion ‘not’ of prostitution ‘in-general’ but the state of the profession in developing countries?

    let’s de-sex this, if we saw a more beautified message of children manning sewing machines in developing countries, would the pressure still be applied by the consumer on countries to improve the conditions?

    why does the pressure exist now for BKK to lose this stigma? having been to Amsterdam recently i can assure you there is not the same stigma; i can assure you the red light district is still like Disney for adults and no one is complaining.

    again, how will Katharina’s marketing message impact our opinion ‘not’ of prostitution ‘in-general’ but the state of the profession in developing countries?

    You Know What? Maybe it should change our perception!, and this is why i kicked this discussion strand off. Is there another reality in BKK than the one we understand now, the story ‘often told before’? Is the reality we have now a fair representation of the state of BKK?, or is the future far more brighter?

    if the future is this positive, then we should all celebrate Katharina’s message. She’s suddenly lets us know the profession is now as mature in BKK as it is in Amsterdam or Vegas, both for the employees and the customers.

    and this is why I am so fascinated with this message, is it accurate?

    is it now so easy in BKK to photograph sex in such a beautiful, emotional, and intimate way?… in a way that has been done in the past only as pure fiction?

    this ‘accuracy’ is what puzzle’s me. i’ve been around the world Bob, a lot, and down many rabbit holes and to BKK more than once, but i can not for the life of me remember any situation that this could happen incidental for a non-local person, purely for charity, and especially not to just tell their story.

    so i ask again, Katharina what did you offer these individuals for them to allow you to photograph them having sex so up close and personal?

    to be very bold and very blunt, i’m stuggling to believe the sex being photographed is happening ‘despite’ Katharina’s presence, in fact i think it’s happening ‘because’ of Katharina’s presence, because of the compensation she is offering them.

    if this is the case imagine the irony of these images. these individuals are in such dire need of compensation that they are willing to be photographed in a soft-porn way to get what ever Katharina offered them, and in this desperation they will actually create images that will perpetuate the reason they are in such a dire way. Of course i hope i’m wrong about this logical conclusion, but i’ve arrived at this feeling because each time i’ve asked these questions Katharina’s swerved.

    This is not some character assassination on you Katharina, it’s an exploration of this topic, it brings my interest full circle; specifically, is there way to tell another story here that has not been told before, in a way that you can avoid all the prevailing road blocks and all the stigmas and all the ethical grenades?

    -Joe

  • I seriously think this is getting ridiculous. This is one single image from a big project and people keep judging from this alone. I bet you can take any image out of any project and take the whole thing totally out of context. Why not wait for the final piece? and then judge! I think Katharina can take it when it’s final and of course you can’t expect her to agree with you..
    And I can’t see why the MEM image is more morally correct then Kat’s image? It could have just as well been taken by a pedophile with a Leica, not meaning that it has been..

    Cheers

  • Martin, please keep in mind that we did not stupidly single out this image to represent the series, Katharina picked it, submitted it, chose it to represent her work.

  • Hi there Stupid & Erik,
    “would the girl feel better represented if she was portrayed half naked, dressed in rotten clothes, sitting in a mess of used condoms – ok, maybe most of her clients don´t like condoms that much – with some rats nagging on her bare toes?” – erik neufurth

    Interesting concept. I didn’t realize we photographers were working to make our subjects “feel better.”-Stupid

    What about respecting your subjects instead of trying to make them conform to some old pj standards ? Can´t help it, some of my ladies by nature are pretty. Now, should I make some effort to make sure they look all beaten -up ? Make them suffer when some indeed even LIKE their lifestyles ? Are they NOT worth being photographed just because they represent only “average girls” and not some victim in the gutter ?
    2-3 years ago there was an article in PDN by the owner of Drik agency in Bangladesh…. from what I remember he was a bit critical of the PJ approach to concentrate on the “highlights of misery” which in the end rather contribute in creating stereotypes than making any “difference”.

    Also: In the end shouldn´t you photograph what you see…. and not what some dogmatic thinkers back home expect from you ? Especially if they have never been to the places you photograph and never met the people you photograph ?

  • This is ridiculous? There have been some pretty ridiculous things in these threads this far, this isn’t one of them.

    A paedophile with a leica, that’s kind of ridiculous. ;)

    Waiting eagerly to hear the (hopefully) forthcoming answers to these questions.

  • Peter,
    next time you feel compelled so arrogantly to leash out with your axe …and remind me to “show some personality and charcacter “…. could you please make sure you are up to your own high moral standards and : 1 . post your full name
    2. show us some of your work so that we have a reference of character and talent to look up to
    3. most important to me : explain/ refer to the source that makes you write such comments. Allegations like yours “money, fees or gifts” should be based on facts , shouldn´t they ?

  • WEENA & ANONONYMOUS…

    “Weena i know very much what you saying, i was there also in the workshop 2007”

    When you indicated that you were participants of the BKK 2007 workshop, did it not occur to you that quite a few BKK workshop participants were reading the comments here ? Weena, I corrected your statements before as they were not based on your alledged presence in the BKK workshop and some of your observations are simply WRONG ( see previous CORRECTION9.
    In fact, there was no WEENA, nor anyone who anonymously would have to support your comment. The women photographers from the workshop are pretty much in touch with each other. 2 participants contacted me this morning as we keep wondering WHO you and Miss Anonymous are ?

  • I will fallow after Martin, this discussion is ridiculous in a half.
    I agree that discussions about woman’s rihts is not ridiculous, but not here.
    Any photographer, even PJ, can have sex with the subject even with prositute, can pay for sex and photos and lunch and cut hair and cleaning, can drink to unconscious and take drugs.
    Everything as permitted by law to other people and do nothing witout their permission (!!!!).
    Everything, even against law to himself, suicide (by drinking to death) including.

    I am sure if this picture can be a part of MEM’s essay you will say “oh my… how wonderful pictures she made. ”
    Or if this picture can be DAH’s picture.

    Am I right?

  • NORMA,
    it would be advisable if you read the corrections I made re the BKK ghost participants´comments.

    “so a “female” photographer pays a “female” prostitute but not for sex! just to pose ! but isn’t it the same as paying for sex? What a shame!”

    Norma, much appreciated if you could please explain where you got this info from ? Am quite impressed with your moral outrage !

  • Stupid,
    catching up slowly..answer to which comment ?

  • Stupid,
    it´s such a broad topic…. why would we all have the same experiences ? Of course there´s a very nasty side… smuggled girls from Eastern EU, abused minor girls, dirty old uncles and little boys ..things that make your stomach turn .
    Does this represent all of them though ?
    Nope. In Thailand ,up to 70 percent of women have been active in prostitution if my memory is right ( dont have all info with me here ) …
    Hm,….. come to think about it.. the prostitute that lives closest to where you are sitting right now, what´s her case ?

  • Stupid,
    misunderstanding.. … what I find odd is that so many people here both unconsciously ( hope it´s the right choice in English: unbewusst) and deliberately apply some ” dogmatic guidelines” that are probabely closest to a PJ when they judge photography. Why ?
    During the BKK workshop I occasionally had quite a few reservations- sure enough you want to appear super correct with a DAH/Nachtwey- which were commented on by the tutors as : K, you see obstacles everywhere, you create your own obstacles.
    Could it be that some guys here see obstacles also when there are not ?

  • “In Thailand ,up to 70 percent of women have been active in prostitution if my memory is right ( dont have all info with me here ) …’

    This appears in the Rss feed but not (yet?) in the thread…

    Euh, Katharina, you sure of this number?

  • I would like ask the same question.
    intriguing….

  • Stoop, Joe, David:

    Let me first of all say that my comment (sent off before bed) wasn’t intended to cut off conversation between the ‘questioners’ and Kat. In fact, it was meant only to suggest that my long and overly-didactic comments were wearing (to me and i am sure to lots of others). That is, I was starting to feel as if my role was spokesperson for the picture/series, rather than a photographer discussing the ideas raised. Let me also iterate that I have respect for each of you (as i have come to know your writing, ideas, work etc). I’ve ‘known’ Stoop the longest and celebrate his/her iconoclastic (elsewhere) points of view. I also believe, completely, in the importance of iconoclastic thinking, particularly in the relm of photography (or any arena for that area). I, as a photographer, writer and simple guy trying to make headway in this world, value the thought that bugs, that iritates and gets beyond the pre-ordained nomenclatura that seems to prevail in most walks of life, but call me stupid ;). So, i’ll try to connect the dots one last time and hope that if y’all continue this conversation with Katharina it will flesh out how I read and view the work. Let me also, again, iterate that the SUCCESS OF BURN is exactly this kind of discussion, disagreement and debate. If nothing else, David’s vision of Burn has (at least for me) begun with an amazing success because here is a place that photography can thrive in a sea of celebration and dissent. I’ve read almost everything each of you have written here at Burn, and at LS (in the case of Stoop) and at Magnum, and i always feel a bit tingly afterward ;). I welcome Stupid’s willingness to question, with humour and force of stupid intellect, what most of the photo world often takes as pre-ordained. I’ve also valued David insight, born of 15 years as a PJ and now as a PJ teacher. And I have enjoyed Joe’s recent debut here over the last month or two (and at Magnum). An ennerviated soul, to me, is an alive one, now matter what the point of view. so, i welcome reading what y’all have written. (sorry for the gush, it’s new years eve and im feeling sprity).

    The reason why i chose to post about Traffik (ironically, i book i was looking at yesterday in the bookstore because of this discussion), was because of the difficulty of dealing with the work and my own very conflicted reaction to both the book and the photographs and especially the shows at MILK in nyc. For those not familiar with Traffik, it is comprised of Avedon-esque b/w “noble” portraits of the women and children along side photographs that are direct allusions to Falkland Roads. In fact, many of the color pictures themselves are near facsimilie’s of MEM’s project. It is clear that Roy is attempting to use a classic approach to photographing these women and children. The project, as i understood it from reading the book earlier this fall, was that he had gone to Cambodia to shoot a Woman of the Year project and then was moved by the plight of the enslavement of these women and children and hope to use his photographs (and his fame) to bring attention to the conditions and the lives of these women and children. He didn’t think about the story for 10 years prior but made “portraits” of the women and children to bring awareness. Now, when i saw the photographs I was actually bothered by them. In many senses they too seem terribly one-dimensional and again, depicted the lives of these women and children with the typic outsider’s view. In fact, i dont know why, but i was also struggling to reconcile myself to the photograph of the woman on the cover, because there seemed little contextual information or background about her or what had happened to her. Ironically, particularly since he used a visual venacular that is clear (avedon and mark) it seemed a bit like the white knight riding into the villages to save the day. However, as i looked at the book and tried to think about what he was trying to do, i decided the only way for me to reconcile this, as with Kat’s work, is the INTENT of Roy’s project. The exhibition in ny and the unreal relationship to all those beautiful new yorkers, art world and high rollers, frankly, made me sick and I couldn’t believe that most people who’d written about the exhibition didnt fully see this gross disconnect between the women and the children in the story, their lives and their suffering, and the exaggerated and shallow reaction. This is what, as a photographer, i personally continually struggle with: the role of photographing to begin with. The irony is that Traffik ‘looks’ noble and brave (the photographs) and the photographs look enpowering and respectful and yet i cant help but feel something not right kosher there. they often look like MEM’s work but the emotional and intentional goal feels completely different. And yet, this is MY reading feeling alone.

    the questioning of ethics and practice must and can only be addressed with the question of INTENT. This is true with my life and my philosophy (buddhist) but also with the basic idea of what is or isnot ethical work. What is the intent of the photographer, their relationship to the subject and their intent/goal with the usage of the work. Photography is a ridiculously seductive medium because of it’s approximation to versmilitude. but all photographers should be able to tell you that photography is not truth, is not about ethics or about elevation, but is a tool in the service of something else. The irony lost on all those exhibition attendees about their behavior and the show at milk in the face of the work just blows my mind (as stoop points out, which was my intent to write about), but does this disconnect attach itself to Roy’s project, his intent? What have the results been and what is his continual relationship to these women and children? I dont know and so i cannot judge the work on this ground. how is this related to Kat’s photograph?

    Each of us reads work very very differently, as Lance, chris and others have pointed out. This not only includes the ‘reading’ of the appearance of the photograph but also the reading and interpretation of the photographers intent and relationship with the subject. Kat is the one that must, if she wants (though she is not obliged), speak about that issue. As i understand the work and as i read it, Kat’s picture seeks to depict the lives of these women in not only the singular fashion that much of this kind of photography seeks to detail. In other words, the lives of these young women in BKK are much more complicated that as if often depicted: either as holy fools, or enobled suffers or ecstatic beauties or lost, trouble women, or impoverished misbegottens. I dont know if one can make any grand statements about this project or this photograph. I actually do not trust photographers who make grand pronouncement for their work, but i do think that kat is trying to show the lives of these young women in a wider reading. But even this, seems overly silly as it’s subjected to one photograph.

    As Stoop as pointed out a number of times at LS and i think even Joe mentioned here, Winogrand’s idea that he wishes to see what the world looks like as a picture(“I photograph to see what something will look like photographed.”) speaks of the problem (both the joy and the frustration) with photography. what is often left out of that quote is what he wrote beforehand: “There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described”)…these 2 sentences together become a paradox, a contradiction and therein lay (at least for me) Winogrand’s genius: it is very very dangeous to speak grandly or ‘truthfully’ about a picture or project. All we have, all we can judge work by is OUR reaction to it, and it is very clear that many photographers here were left uncomfortable by the picture. That IS a fair and legitimate complaint. However, making the connection from a visual distate to questions about a photographers ethic or the voracity of her conviction is really unfair and also self-aggrandizing.

    all the questions about payment and using and all the anonymous folk (it is pretty cowardly to speak of attending the workshop and not having the courage to come forth) just muddies all this. that many photographers find the ‘look’ of the photograph in ‘poor taste’ given the content is their personal aesthetic, their pesonal negotiation of what a particular photograph should look like given a specific content….this is an argument as old the question, is the leica m8 worth the coin?.. ;))))..

    in the end guys, i think it is ok to discuss and argue about what constitutes the value of a photograph and the content and the use of photography. I am not wholly sure that the question of is it PJ/documentary or is it Art fair, because those distinctions make no difference to me, unless there is a distinction of INTENT between those two. As i’ve talked with John vink alot about, for many, there is a clear division. I dont see it so black and white because i think all photography comes down to a negotiation of personal filters.

    Why not just say: i dont like that a photograph of a young prostitue looking ‘glamourous’ (again this reaction is a personal one, ’cause not everone see it like that) or this photograph doesnt work for me, and leave it at that. The problem is that we judge everything through our own spectrum of ideas, vision, experience, philosophy and rarely extend that vision to the attempt at trying to understand how another my react. That is all i am saying.

    Each of us can only arrive at our own conclusions and this must and foremost be arrived through the intent of our behavior, nothing else. Arriving at consequence requires the understanding of not only how we did something but what lay behind it: the why. we often get bottle necked over the how and rarely examine the why. if Stoop and David and Joe are concerned with the why, i think kath has answered that. if the argument is ‘how’ (as in how could you photograph a prostitute like this), i think the failure becomes in the attempt to understand.

    and above all, these women’s lives and what happens are infinitely more important than all these words and polemics…and especially very stupid and obdurately long-winded speech ;)))

    sorry, that was a mouthful…

    either way, i hope we all recongize that what matters is that we NEED to discuss this, for the lives of the people we photograph are head and shoulders more important that our own egos or our own ideas of what is a good or ethical picture…

    that’s my last comment for 2008: i promise! ;)))))))))))))

    hugs
    running
    bob

  • John,
    as I said: I dont have my papers here with me…

  • BOB,
    “Each of us reads work very very differently, as Lance, chris and others have pointed out. This not only includes the ‘reading’ of the appearance of the photograph but also the reading and interpretation of the photographers intent and relationship with the subject. Kat is the one that must, if she wants (though she is not obliged), speak about that issue”

    Will do…. I prefer though to wait until the final edit is out.

  • sorry, here is my last comment…

    my line: “and what happens are infinitely more important than all these words and polemics…and especially very stupid and obdurately long-winded speech ;)))”

    was meant as an attack against MY overly long, and dramtic and silly comments…no one else’s ;)))

    happy new year y’all

    b

  • Bob, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Intent is lovely but in photography – as in the rest of life – only the results count. I’m sure Katharina’s intent was and is good. I don’t have any stupid problems with her intent. I have a very serious problem with the result.

  • BOB,

    I was just reading your post, one of the many interesting exchanges that have happened with Kat, Joe and others and, like you, feel that this gives me a great hope for what BURN will become or already is. A unique place to show the work, get reactions, exchange, think. It is so exciting to see it blossom so rapidly and importantly with the sort of quality dialogue that has taken place here. I am myself not always as comfortable or simply capable of expressing with words how to interpret a photograph, why I should like or dislike it but I welcome reading what others see and I certainly learn from it which, I think, is also what BURN is all about. The dialogue made me think at the topic itself and also reflect upon what KAT was after, how I would have trated the topic etc in a way that would not have been possible without that exchange so, thanks to all of you that are contributing here. Personnaly, I tend to not always think too much about the meaning or the message of the photographs (I should really) and tend to react very instinctively to photographs…they either touch me or they do not. Kat’s photographs really touch me in a way that I cannot explain rationally. Of course there is the beauty mixed with the unease that such a topic can create. Clearly, there is also the mystery for me on how she did it, how she was able to get so close….in a way I want to know more, but in a way I also do not….I like also being left with the mystery and simply let the photograph speak to me, my feelings. If I only focus on that, I see in Kat an amazingly talented artist. Is this not what this is all about? Anyway, great exchange guys….
    Eric

  • Many good points Bob. I just really don’t understand all the fuss over a damn portrait. (and a damn nice one in my opinion)

    And that is all it is when looked at outside of the body of work. And even in the body of work, it is what it is… the photographers vision and representation of how he/she sees the subject, ie their intent.

    It is a posed portrait. And yes there is a place for those in photojournalism. POYi has a specific category for them and the NPPA’s Best of Photography has two.

    As I said before, ten people can look at the same photograph and have ten different interpretations and feelings about it. Nobody is wrong. They are just right for themselves.

    Katharina: I am looking forward to the final edit.

  • Any chance you get them back soon?

  • Stupid..a question..I have lost much of this thread of the discussion, but am interested in your ideas.

    Given that your distinction is art / non art, and to Kat these images are not meant to be PJ truths which are accountable to AP-like standards (so for many that would put them in the ‘art’ realm), what in the result excludes them for you from being art, and becomes seriously problematic?

    thanks..

  • Erica, the context is problematic for me. If the cutline “Nat, 22, a prostitute and single mother, poses in a short-time hotel” were not there and I encountered the image out of this context, I’d likely not have much of a problem with it. Same stupid problem that I have with the party hardy Traffik opening Bob brought up.

  • Joe’s logical quests echo my own, thank you for putting my thoughts into words. This is something I was struggling with since I first saw your pictures and read your comments, Katharina, either on LS, foto8 or road trips. I also agree with Stupid Photographer, the choice of presenting the picture and captions is the photographer’s, not ours.

  • Hi Stupid..knowing that, my next question is to ask you to explain (if you are willing) a little about your thoughts on the role/relevance of context in art, and how that can be distinguished in this case from intent..

  • Intent, to me, is irrelevant. I intend a lot of stupid things that matter to nobody. Context is how and where we choose to place art. Context is of course often completely out of our hands. Like when we let go of our work and others place it in a context of their own. We may have intended something else but may end up with our work taken out of that intended context. Complicated, for sure. But while the context is still in our hands, it is our responsibility.

  • And to stupidly borrow a line from Bob, running, later…

  • Erica,
    I think there´s many layers between art on the one hand and -for instance-pj on the other hand. How for example do you see Alex Majoli´s “Libera Me “? Lorenzo Cicconi Massi ? What about Wiliam Klein ?

  • Hi Eva & Joe,
    hm… unfortunately, I have serious trouble to follow Joe´s “logical” quests I am afraid to say. There is one assumption that shortly after pops up as a fact and from there we jump to the next one and that leads to another one….
    Joe, you seem to read a lot in one single image and I do admire your elaborate efforts. However,some of the interpretations that you attribute to me now, stem from your very own comments.

    Would it be possible to maybe wait with your next conclusions (and my supposed message) until you see a final edit ? Thank you very, very much !!!

  • Peter,
    “I just really don’t understand all the fuss over a damn portrait”

    THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH FOR SAYING IT !!!!!!!!

  • EVERYONE,

    When I submitted the picture of Nat on Dec 26, I´d never expect ( sorry for hijacking your language Stupid)
    that one stupid picture would generate such a stupid fuss.
    The final thing may be a surprise to those(who -quite self- assured) engaged in their conclusions that are even not based on facts.
    Hopefully it´s understandable that I don´t see any reason to discuss the project in detail before it´s even published.

    Get over it and Happy New Year !

  • I am Thai.
    And I can confirm that her data is fake.

  • I’m waiting for that paper. I live in Thailand and strongly believe that this statement in FALSE.

  • thank you Nok, because this photographer insists that 7 out of 10 women in Thailand are whores or practiced the “oldest profession” at some point of their lives.
    Seven out of ten women in Thailand are prostitutes.Really?
    No wonder my wife scratched Thailand out of our vacation list. So much exaggeration just to cover up another perverted photographers latest trip to the whorehouse and they dare to call that art.

  • Dear Pattapong M that statement is FALSE but the photographer needs it to sell the photo and also to justify the trips to that brothel. I hope the photographer had “fun” with her subjects but she should also be naked and involve her self with the subject because now she acts like she is saving the world. Another Peeping Tom with a camera.

  • I found that 75% of thai men sleep regulary with prostitutes and there is 450 000 paid sex relations per day.
    So may be Kathrina was wrong about gender, it’s happen.
    If I will find how many women are or was prostitutes I’ll give you a note.

  • “9% thai women are oficial protitutes now.”

    “1.5% of Thailand’s population is infected with the AIDS epidemic.”

    “There are an estimated 80,000-1,000,000 prostitutes in Thailand”

  • Estimates on the number of women in prostitution in Thailand range from 300,000 to 2.8 million (CATW –Asia pacific, 1996).

  • Katharina, you put an image here that is inherently tied to an essay called Human Negotiation. Ten images in that seventeen image essay were collected by you photographing the act of sex, sex which looks like commercially marketable pornography.

    You’ve collected almost two-hundred responses in just three days. These responses helped you understand what people might think of not just this image, but your Human Negotiation effort as you’ve promoted to date. Most of these responses were in a similar spirit and most of these responses were sincere and well thought out; they should resemble gold dust to you Katharina.

    I’m sorry you’ve decided this free dress-rehearsal of the feedback is something to resent verse appreciate. If you see this feedback as an attack verses the crib sheet to all the mines that lay before you than you‘ve really no idea how much value has been poured before you in these last three days.

    Oh well… C’est la vie

    And Katharina, although you might not think so, I do hope you bust through with an original and credible piece of work.

    And to all a Happy New Year.
    ..

  • Bob,

    I had the same reaction seeing a Nachtwey show at Fahey/Klein in LA a few years back. Giant 4′ x6′ blow ups of Pakistani drug addicts and war and misery, all for sale for thousands of $ and just perfect for that loft with 20′ ceilings. Just didn’t make sense. It’s not that they weren’t good or even important images – it’s just that they were really out of place. Intimate 11X14’s would have been nicer and allowed the viewer some room to connect and brought the subjects into a more humanistic scale.

    I had a similar reaction to a Eugene Richards show at leica gallery in NY. For some reason he felt compelled to print his most difficult pictures big (like his wife’s mastectomy) when I felt they would have been better served small, like the others. Why not print the warmer side of humanity he had in the show big? Was it just to shock, make a point? It was lost on me.

    Katherine,

    When people ask me what I shoot, I’ve come up with the “label” of “fine art documentary.” I’m not a pj in the traditional sense – ie I’m not chasing fires or dropping into war zones or hanging around psych wards. My pics tend to be more subtle and what I happen across when traveling (or a specific take on youth culture like my rock and breakdancing). They can be ambiguous – beautiful for their own sake. I hope to submit some pics for the single supplement – but that’s what they’ll be – single pics. Sorry you got so beat up here.

  • Joe,
    for the last time:
    I tried to explained to you early on in this thread that the pictures on my website are NOT the essay , but simply an update from a previous trip. How/ when this project started I explained as well. Several times along this thread I explained that there will be a final edit that is NOT published yet.
    Seriously Joe, do I like some of your ideas and I do appreciate the tremendous efforts you have made. I am sure we´d have a great discussion in real life. However, given this loud thinking is made on the internet where things can get out of hand quite easily …. unfortunately people whose aim it appears to do some trash campaign ( have you seen the “invitation” posted under another essay on Burn : “Stupid trashes the prostitute picture” ?) your thoughts ( at least to me ) read like an easy excuse to leash out even more.
    Looking forward to your input later on .

  • So ‘Peace’ it is; cool.

    Thank you for the effort Katharina to find the good intentions in this when it all got very blurry.

    Actually with 20/20 hindsight, you are right, this is still a public podium; and although we talk conversationally, we might as well be publishing. I apologise for not considering this aspect of the exercise.

    Take it easy.

    -Joe
    ..

  • They all strike me as art by artists. Lots of layers of art. I don’t see any reason for other stupid labels.

  • I did not read this articles carefuly at all, I’ve been looking for this % of thai women prostitutes, so I could made some mistake and I think there are old data, but here are links

    http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/54/072.html

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE5D91239F937A25754C0A967958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2

    Prostitution in thailand is very interesting topic. I have to read more about. When I will have time.

  • Blogger,
    my reply to John Vink was:
    December 31, 2008 at 8:31 am
    “John,
    as I said: I dont have my papers here with me…”

    …which in your comments suddenly becomes :
    “the photographer insists that 7 out of 10 women “….

    WHERE DO I INSIST ?

    just to be followed by :
    ….”the photographer needs it to sell the photo and also to justify the trips to that brothel.

    WHEN DID I SAY THAT I MUST SELL THE PHOTO ????

    I hope the photographer had “fun” with her subjects but she should also be naked and involve her self with the subject because now she acts like she is saving the world. Another Peeping Tom with a camera.”

    PLEASE PROVIDE ONE QUOTE WHERE I “act like I want to save the world”.
    THANK YOU!

    PS: Strangely the direct accusations in this post seem to come from anoynmous people. Blogger, why is that ?

  • charles :)))

    yes, that’s it exactly …it’s always been a difficulty for me, not only the grandiosity of much photography and/or the sense of importance, but a lack of perspective…we’re just renters here, in this world, just renters, not land owners, monachy, kings…just folks passin’ through…the traffik exhibition was an example of everything i hate about the art world (and i have a place in that world, though it’s a difficult one), but in the end, even that doesnt matter…we’re just here for a short time, and each of us does what we need to: to me, just simple: write some good books, make some good photo books, leave the world less damaged by my appearance, and above all, make safe and full my wife and son……by the way, last year when i exhibited the work i had made for David for the EPF (and our memories brief as photos), i printed all as 5×7 and put in a small box…people could touch, hold, re-order, whatever….scratch (yes, a punch of the pics got scratched)…sold each for $50…just wanted to make the point that photography needs to be democratic…and more importantly our vision is a gift from those we photograph…how i lable myself, by the way, “photographer” and “writer”…i’ve always hated the terms (for my writing) poet/essayist…and for my photographer “artist”…cause what i do is just document the world, my own world, my memories of it, my relationship with people and place and moments…and u should know how much i have always loved touchmei’msick! :)))…cant wait to see cypher….

    hugs
    running
    bob

  • BOB …
    just wrote you an email.

  • Hi all

    Katrina, sorry you did not try to signal me when you were coming to Thailand.

    personally, since we talk of one picture, a single picture, I do not think it’s about (thai) prostitution, or bangkok, or anything. It’s a contemporary picture of a woman nude on a carpet, incidentally/apparently asian ethnically (so many “asians” with all types of nationalities). In that, it can awake emotions, allusions, opinions/suggestions that may reach beyond its artistry and subject/discipline.

    One of the problems of treating prostitution in PJ or literary terms, is that more than often the prostitutes are always prostitutes first, “over all”, and not often anything in second, or not that much (when put next to being a prostitute). It seems that this is all we need to know. so it goes as such (not me speaking here): “She is a prostitute… Prostitution is the same scourge all over, with maybe degrees of physical violence perpetrated on women differing”.

    On the contrary, if we believe prostitutes are not just prostritutes, or not only prostitutes (I can be quoted again), there is no way, this single picture can even start to say anything about that reality. Someone mentionned her life outside of her job, proper. Indeed.

  • Without reading into what I think it means, cause my opinion doesn’t really matter, this is a beautiful evocative photo. Nice work.

  • Hi Herve,
    I sent you a message. Hope you got it.

  • “When you are in a fun mood in BKK maybe you agree to one thing, however back home with family or your employer,… cough cough… you never did “that” ? And the last thing you need is a pix of you and a lady in a short-time hotel or in the redlight districts published in a magazine ?
    That´s the reason why we removed all identifiable (sp?) pictures but one. Maybe try to imagine that many guys you meet there are Western/Thai business people, guys on holidays with families back home, family men just seeking some unofficial fun etc… To crash in there with the conviction that you have every right to use your own pictures afterwards without paying any attention to what dammage you may cause to those guy´s lifes strikes me as a bit egoistic or unappropriate. If the men and the women trust me and give me access , why then would I screw them around ?”

    While (whilst?) I can understand about the model release (don’t think it counts if you make pics in public?, it’s hard to understand this way of thinking of yours, Katharina, to me. Family men, like you are suggesting, screwing their families back home is ok, but not taking and publishing pictures of them because they’re on unofficial visit? Don’t think I can (want to) follow this trail of thought.

    Anyway, I’ll wait for the final edit of your essay.

  • Joe
    December 31, 2008 at 6:45 am

    well said Joe!

  • Katharina,

    If art is something visual that not only pleases the senses but forces us to think and ask questions, then you have certainly succeeded far beyond expectations with this photograph! I was tied up last week and couldn’t leap to your defence when this dialogue was apparently at fever pitch, but I think you held your own quite well.

    But the main reason I am writing here now is to congratulate you on your short piece on ‘Delayed in Bangkok’ appearing in the January issue of the Digital Journalist’s Dispatches from the Field section. For other readers who have not seen it yet, here is the link:
    http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0901/delayed-in-bangkok.html

    Cheers!

  • Sidney,
    thanks.
    The reactions reminded me a bit of Rashomon…. except that-unlike in Ryunosuke´s story- not everyone was indeed a witness (in the broadest sense )….
    :)

  • does the girl has a life beside posing for the photographer? does she care about her child? does she has a family? how is her life when she is not “working”? where does she live?
    this picture leaves the impression that she just posed for some cash.

  • Henry,
    maybe read the beginning of the thread….

  • “Bangkok, November 28, 2008:
    Nat , 22, a prostitute and single mother, poses in a short-time hotel.”

    thats what I read Katharina, did I miss something? when looking at a photograph I want the image telling me the story, do I have to read the thread to understand?

  • Hello everyone. As a scientist, I am not sure anymore that life can be reduced to a class struggle, to dialectical materialism, or any set of formulas. Life is spontaneous and it is unpredictable, it is magical. I think that we have struggled so hard with the tangible that we have forgotten the intangible.
    I am from Republic and too poorly know English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Cheap airline tickets for italy tickets cheap tickets discount airfares but france had not cheap airline tickets for italy north west africa she desired.”

    :o Thanks in advance. Harel.

  • Questions (Q) and comments (C):

    Q: Did you pose the prostitute? If so, why did you pose her in this fashion? Why did you make the lighting so dark and grungy?

    C: My observation of this photo pose is that it is very morose, like what you might see in a coroner’s photo file. However, if you were ever to enter the red light district in Bangkok, you would instantly see the complete opposite of this image. The sex workers are very energetic, very acute, very daring, very business oriented. They speak English and Thai and even a little bit of Japanese. They want to earn large sums of money very quickly. They have no qualms with whom they have sex with, whether he is a customer is 18 years old (fit and handsome), or 80 years old (bald and fat) — money has no face. I am speaking about the philosophy of the majority of sex workers, not the minority.
    There is a politic to photo-art, like any other art, and there are two view-points an observer can hold. The first is that prostitution is an awful, terrible, demonical trade of flesh for cash, whereby women are either forced by someone or something into a fate of misery and self-loathing. The second view-point is that sex workers are making an incredible amount of money and that they are working in the pleasure profession, pleasing men (or other women) by the virtue of their female beauty, seduction, erotic fantasy, and sexual mastery.
    People quickly adapt to the environment they choose. The choice is always available in Thailand, like any other part of the world that people without education are free to work in either the unskilled (low wage) market, or… they can work in the pleasure industry. This is a choice very few straight men have. The majority of straight men without education are doomed to a life of hard-labor or dead-end sales jobs. There are straight men that choose to enter the gay pleasure market, and I assume such a choice is not an easy one to make. But the primary goal for people in the pleasure industry is MONEY. In no other profession can an uneducated man or woman earn approximately $100 / hr. The motivation is obvious. The emotional outcome is part of the personal price each man or woman must make when choosing his / her profession. This applies to firemen, policemen, soldiers, ambulance drivers, nurses who work the grave-yard shift, etc. There is always a price to pay for the choices we make. But the choices are clear and the pain comes with the territory. Football players suffer broken fingers, broken ribs, broken heads, broken teeth, broken everything… but they know the risk and they know the reward. They are not stupid, so never feel pity for a man or woman who chooses to gamble. Win or lose, the choice is always present. And human nature is lustful for sex… and for money.
    Another side to the Thai sex worker in Bangkok is that the she is also earning a little extra money for rent or her cell phone bills. These girls work solo, and they choose who they want to pleasure and at what price. They usually have a lot of fun, because (I must restate) most girls choose who they want to pleasure (and be pleasured by) for the night, just as any other (non-prostitute) female in any other country may choose to have a one night stand in a bar on a Friday night for free.
    Don’t be fooled. There are many stripes on the Thai zebra. Not all have the black stripe of sadness. Take a closer look and you will see a very driven people aiming to climb NOT out of poverty, but into the lap of luxury.
    Bangkok is a very modern city and the people are not the misbegotten country bumpkins most ego-centric Westerners believe them to be. These are not the leper children of Vietnam, Burma, and Cambodia. They are a proud people with very specific goals for the future. Once again, I speak of the majority of female sex workers in Bangkok.
    These beautiful girls know their worth and they will make you pay – nose, ears, and a pound of flesh — for your pleasure. They are sophisticated and they are waiting for your ATM cards.
    The worn out hookers with baby in arms belongs in the pages of National Geographic, not in the real world of Bangkok, Thailand. Next time you see a prostitute… check her fingers for gold rings. You will not be disappointed. The gold is real… but nothing else is.

    I make the suggestion to the photographer: Place the subject in her true environment, not the one you imagine for her. I challenge you.

    FROM: REXMILES@HOTMAIL.COM

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