• Hero3

    David Emery: Brothel

Photography

David Emery's portraits of brothels are powerfully poignant in their haunting stillness

Posted by Rob Alderson,

There are lots of ways to tackle a subject which resonates with our deepest sense of social shame such as prostitution. Do you focus on the women, the human beings forced to submit to this degrading profession for the gratification of others? Do you focus on the clients for whom the urge to indulge their lust rides roughshod over any sense of basic compassion? Do you focus on the pimps, the violent, manipulative masters of these women who connect supply and demand with such avaricious scruplessness?

All of these obviously have their merit, but I am struggling to remember a more affecting portrayal of this world than this arresting series by photographer David Emery. Called simply Brothel, David has documented the places where this profession plays out, the seedy buildings on the edges of towns and morality united only by their sexless sense of unbecoming ordinariness (although some of the settings are depressingly picturesque).

The haunting emptiness of his pictures paradoxically heightens their power – the odd parked car merely hints at the goings-on inside and cautions us against the temptation to dismiss these structures as just another roadside building. These may not be easy viewing but they’re certainly effective.

  • Brothel1__800

    David Emery: Brothel

  • Stilo_night_800

    David Emery: Brothel

  • Club_motorway_800

    David Emery: Brothel

  • Eclipse1_800

    David Emery: Brothel

  • Mels_brothel_800

    David Emery: Brothel

  • Red-brothel._800

    David Emery: Brothel

  • Rural-dogs-neon_800

    David Emery: Brothel

  • Wild_dogs_crop_800

    David Emery: Brothel

  • Brothel_night_800

    David Emery: Brothel

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Photography View Archive

  1. List_

    For me, stumbling across Roger Minick’s archive of photographs of sightseers at tourist destinations is akin to opening an old box in the attic and finding a heap of jewels stashed in it. The Sightseers Series began in 1976, when while teaching photography workshops in Yosemite National Park, Roger was distracted by the hoards of visitors posing for photographs in front of the views.

  2. List

    Photographer Victoria Ling has the kind of portfolio anyone would be envious of, brimming with exquisitely polished photographic work; still life compositions created for high-profile clients and personal projects alike. Her work achieves the kind of ethereal polish that makes you wonder how much of it could possibly real, but the majority of her imagery is all captured in camera, as she explains below…

  3. List

    Voters in Scotland are today deciding whether to swap 300 years of union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland for the nationalist dream of an independent country. The referendum is being held exactly 700 years after the Battle of Bannockburn, where Robert The Bruce defeated the English army of Edward II and every year a re-enactment is held to bring this major historical landmark back to life.

  4. Listlachapelle_landscape_03

    The dazzling lights of David LaChapelle’s hyper-realistic photographs, glinting from neon and metallic and shimmering objects, send a hazy glow into the dark background; a magical aura that conjures up memories of fairground rides and bonfire nights and hot breath misting up the air in front of you. The photographer’s images are no less magical really; they draw you in, bedazzled and bewildered, like a ditzy moth drawn to a lamp, and then surprise you by being even more brilliant than you realised at first.

  5. List

    Imagine for a moment that the shoebox under your bed was filled not with photos of your Great Aunt June snoozing on the sofa last Christmas, but with photographs taken in space by astronauts on Apollo 14. For a lucky few at NASA this is (almost) true, and fortunately they’re more than happy to share their treasures with us proles in the form of a new exhibition at London’s BREESE Little Gallery.

  6. Main

    I think we can all agree that in the past few years food photography has pretty much reigned the internet as far as image-porn blogging is concerned. And yes, photographing tangerines on bright blue backgrounds does always look nice, we get it. But among the thousands of people documenting food in order to gain online notoriety there are some photographers who are known in the industry as the ones who can really, really shoot food.

  7. List

    The debate over so-called “ruin porn” has raged for several years now, exploring the cultural and ethical ramifications of turning the decrepit and dilapidated into art. But if anyone could breathe new life into this kind of project, it’s Nadav Kander. The photographer’s new show Dust opens in London today, and takes as its epigraph the T.S Eliot line: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

  8. Listalextennapel1

    The best portrait photography is truly mesmerising; a compliment which can surely be paid to Alex Ten Napel’s series of Alzheimer’s patients. In a somewhat ironic manner, the Dutch photographer has created enrapturing, memorable images of elderly and enigmatic faces. They’re both heartbreaking and joyful, delightful and despairing, as Alex has caught “that specific moment portrait photographers wait for: the moment in which posture and facial expression come together in a meaningful manner.”

  9. List

    There’s not an amateur photographer alive who hasn’t got a roll of film back from the developing booth of their local supermarket to find that almost every picture is clouded over by a giant fleshy finger. Usually it obstructs most if not all of the image and sends the photograph itself catapulting straight into the nearest bin in a fit of frustration.

  10. List

    A year on since we first covered George Osodi’s work on the site he continues to astound us. The Lagos-based photographer produces some of the most incredible photojournalism I’ve ever seen; this series Nigeria Monarchs: The Custodians of Peace and Cultural Heritage documents the figures across Nigeria who, in spite of having no constitutional rule since the monarchy was officially abolished in 1963, remain key personalities in the country’s political landscape. The travelling exhibition had a stint in London last year and is about to open in Budapest, Hungary, serving as further proof (if any was needed) of the curiosity which exists worldwide about these majestic and exotic figures. What’s more George hopes to photograph 100 of the monarchs, so the collection is not due to stop growing any time soon.

  11. List

    September is always a time for nostalgia; it’s that back-to-school, turning-of-the-seasons vibe that goes hand-in-hand with a certain sense of self-reflection. Few moments stick in our minds and come to define our personal stories more than our first kiss; that giddy mixture of nerves, anticipation and a feeling of the moment’s huge significance that rarely tallies with the physical reality! For its latest brief, MOPHOTO are working with Cornetto and asking young photographers to create an image of a first kiss that captures that dizzying array of emotions in a single visual.

  12. List

    I’m loth to comment on summer’s swift disappearance or the vague possibility that it might get warm again in the coming weeks, but how can I miss the opportunity which this series by Anaïs Boileau has so generously handed me? This brilliant photo-series examines the women who live for a tan, happily sunning themselves with foil trays pressed to their chins and eye-protectors plastered to their sockets. There’s something gently teasing and kind of funny but also really well-constructed about her images – the props make for a natural frame so you’re confronted with a very immediate manifestation of our society’s obsession with bronzed skin, which seems more ridiculous the longer you think about it.

  13. List

    Family life can be strange, unsettling and oppressive as well as happy, funny and ridiculous, and it’s this sometimes-sinister underside of the domestic sphere photographer Joanna Piotrowska seeks to elevate with her series FROWST. Her black and white images capture ambivalence and double meaning in the family home; brothers and sisters lie awkwardly across one another and pull at each other’s bodies in strangely stagnant compositions, while oddly familiar environments are imbued with a quiet strangeness that’s not entirely new.