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E. J. Bellocq

Text from The Photography Encyclopedia

Bellocq, E. J. (1873-1949): American documentary photographer

Bellocq's life and work, albeit a fictionalized version, were made into the 1978 Brooke Shields movie Pretty Baby, directed by Louis Malle. Bellocq was a busy commercial photographer in New Orleans from about 1895 to 1940. Little is known about his professional work beyond a 1918 commission as company photographer with a shipbuilding firm on the Gulf of Mexico. It is his relaxed, realistic pictures of prostitutes in New Orleans's infamous legal red light district for which he is best known. The images were discovered by photographer Lee Friedlander in 1958 (and the surviving plates were bought in 1966); the acclaimed Storybook was the resulting volume, culled from the 89 surviving images. He also is said to have shot the opium dens of New Orleans's Chinatown, but none of that work has survived.


 


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