© E.J. Bellocq (John Ernest Joseph Bellocq), ca. 1911-1913, Untitled, Storyville Portraits, #17

(printed after 1967 by Lee Friedlander)

John Ernest Joseph Bellocq (1873 – 1949) was an American professional photographer who worked in New Orleans during the early 20th century. Bellocq is remembered for his haunting photographs of the prostitutes of Storyville, New Orleans’ legalized red light district. These have inspired novels, poems and films.

Bellocq was born in a wealthy white French Creole family in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He became known locally as an amateur photographer before setting himself up as a professional, making his living mostly by taking photographic records of landmarks and of ships and machinery for local companies. However, he also took personal photographs of the hidden side of local life, notably the opium dens in Chinatown and the prostitutes of Storyville (1912). These were only known to a small number of his acquaintances.

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After his death, most of his negatives and prints were destroyed. However, the Storyville negatives were later found. After many years, they were purchased by a young photographer, Lee Friedlander. In 1970, a show of Friedlander’s posthumous prints on gold tone printing out paper from Bellocq’s 8” x 10” glass negatives were mounted by curator John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. A selection of the photographs was also published concurrently in the book, Storyville
Portraits
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