Alicia Vera – Eden

Alicia Vera




I met Eden while working on a project about strippers in San Francisco, CA. She had just flown into the city to live out her fantasy of becoming an exotic dancer. Baby, a slightly older dancer and prostitute, was one of the first people Eden met at the strip club and after two years of friendship, decided to put herself in Baby’s hands. She became her pimp and taught her the ins and outs of escorting. Eden was eventually caught by an undercover task force. It was her third arrest in the state and was now facing jail time. The recent events had shaken her up but she felt she had learned enough “game” to become independent and left Baby. Before her court date, I accompanied Eden to Lancaster, VA where she visited her mother and for the first time openly discussed her work as an escort.



For hours she questioned her motivations, safety, and her over all well being but ultimately she disapproved of her daughter’s choice. Her court hearing was in Annapolis, MA and despite her previous arrests, the judge let her off with a $300 fine. A few hours later, we found ourselves in an undisclosed hotel room. Candles lit, curtains shut, clothes off. With the grant, I’d like to continue to tell Eden’s story by photographing her every day life. This would be in collaboration with Eden using her journal entries to create a more dynamic story. While I began this project to document the world of prostitution and to initiate dialogue on issues that apply to every women such as self-identity and female chauvinism, I feel that this project is ultimately about a woman’s struggle to find herself.

“Nobody IS what they DO, but whatever we do becomes a part of us. I am a woman, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an artist, and a provider of sex in exchange for money. Although I set aside pieces of myself to protect them, I do not disappear. The daughter, sister, friend, and artist that I am outside of work will always carry around the memories and lessons I’ve gained.” – Eden, 21




Alicia Vera is a documentary photographer based in Mexico City. She studied at the Academy of Art University, attended the VII workshop taught by Ashley Gilbertson in Queretaro, Mexico, Day of the Dead Workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico taught by David Alan Harvey, and is an Eddie Adams Workshop XXIII alumni.


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Alicia Vera



9 Responses to “Alicia Vera – Eden”


    nice work…this is the first time in a long time i have seen sort of a classic sequential day in the life of picture story that i normally deplore actually WORK….this is like watching a movie or a flip page book..

    cheers, david

  • Alicia – Many photographers do essays on prostitutes. You are doing an essay on a human being, unlike any other I have seen. Keep going.

  • Such a calm story and I would rarely use the word ‘calm’ in the same sentence with ‘prostitutes’ or ‘sex industry’. :)

    I agree that using Eden’s journals would enhance the story even more. This looks like the start of an awesome book.

    Well done.


  • Am keen to see how this project pans out. Marvellous start. Very intimate and gentle. Good luck to all concerned.

  • Great job!. Very close and intimate. I particularly like pictures 2 (with the cardboard sign “hanlde with care”), 7 (out of focus, but full of tenderness) and 21 (innocent rest after a hard life).

  • #20 where she is bored at work is so incredibly telling.

  • A couple questions that seem to be nagging me a bit. First, why was it her dream to be an exotic dancer? Where did that come from? Second, why did she make the move to being an escort? Was the promise of money too great?

  • @Brian, of course I cannot answer your questions, but if you read “11 Minutes” by Paolo Coelho, could give you a hint into a direction.

  • Alicia, I follow you on Instagram and “like” your pictures there, but now I see who you really are as a photographer and am blown away! “Eden” is a powerful portrait of a young woman’s journey to finding herself. Like her mother, I may find some of her choices not to my liking but what you do here is help me respect Eden’s right to live her own life as she must. You bring an artistic, compassionate, non-judgement eye to this project and that is what makes it work. Just keep doing what you’re doing, dig ever more deeply and show us all sides of Eden’s life. As she says, she is daughter, sister, friend, artist and provider of sex for money. If you can show us her well-rounded life you will be breaking the stereotype of sex worker as subject of photo essay. Forge on…

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