The Sydney Photographer Cornering the Escort Promo Shot Market
People try and explain away the role sex plays in art, but are we really just holding out to see tits?
Photographer Bradley Scott takes pictures of sex workers. Sometimes it's for his own work and sometimes it's for their own promotional websites. Not surprisingly the images are heavy on sex, nudity, and general adult themes. When I first viewed his shots they suggested another Terry Richardson wannabe. But maybe that's kind of the point. Richardson makes expensive coffee table books that dudes jerk off to. His pictures are the product of a bare fantasy—sex that is as removed from gentle copulation as you can get. It’s about separating the body from the brain. Bradley Scott, whether by accident or design, bypasses the bit where he transforms the model into the subject. By photographing sex workers he addresses the fantasy directly. People try and explain away the role sex plays in art, but are we really just holding out to see tits? Bradley thinks so, and he skips all the faux-intellectualism to get there.
Talking to Bradley on the phone, you have to give him credit for his frankness. He doesn’t sentimentalise his subjects or try paint them as fragile victims of a man’s world. They’re women who get paid for sex being paid to have their picture taken. And then there are the times where it's him working for them because, after all, everyone is just trying to get paid.
VICE: Tell us about this side of your work.
Bradley Scott: I shoot sex workers. Sometimes I shoot it for myself—or sometimes they pay me to shoot and they’ll use it for their websites and things like that. I usually get referred on from other sex workers or spend the day trolling sex worker websites trying to find girls who look interesting.
Why sex workers?
Because they’re cool and open to doing what I want them to do. They seem to see the artistic side and the human side of sex—it’s not a taboo. Sex is sex and they do it for a living so they can see the other side of it, it’s not just porn.
Also—I’m going to sound like a dick—but I wanted to see tits. I wanted to see naked girls. I wanted to shoot naked girls. The girls at the modelling agencies, they’ll get naked, but for the right photographer. And at that stage I wasn’t that guy. I wasn’t someone who could just say, "cool take your top off” and they would trust me because I’d never had that experience. There’s something about sex workers that’s kind of interesting and made me want to shoot them.
It’s easy to look at this and see a Terry Richardson or Richard Kern runoff. What makes your work different from the sexualised photography trend that’s everywhere at the moment?
A lot of people make that comparison. In some ways I take reference from both of them. I don’t know, I hope I bring something more of myself into it. It’s more intimate than just sexualised fashion pictures. I go in there with the intent to create images that relate to me or of something that’s happened to me, I just capture that. I hope there’s some kind personal thing in there that people can see.
How did you get this job?
I have no idea. I moved to Sydney from Perth and I was just like, fuck it, I’m gonna see if I can work this out. I emailed a couple of sex workers and showed them my earlier stuff, like my fashion stuff and all my other photography, and just told them I wouldn’t charge them and they’d get all the photos. One said yes, I just built it off of that.
Are you different on shoots now?
Maybe. I mean I think I can talk to people a lot easier now, and I can judge how someone’s feeling a lot easier that I’ve done a lot of this work. I can get a sense of what’s cool and what’s not cool and what I will and won't be able to get.
In the past you've interviewed a number of renowned war and documentary photographers for VICE, including Tim Page and Stephen Dupont. How does this side of your work relate to their kind of output?
I could probably make up some bullshit about how sex and war are related and how the battle inside myself regarding women and relationships is that of a war zone but that wouldn't be true. I interviewed those guys because I wanted to show their talent to the readers of VICE. Their work inspires me of course, and i've learned many things from them; they're my friends, but i don't think you can really compare our separate works alongside each other.
Are you the go-to guy for sex worker promo shots?
I wouldn’t say I’m the go-to guy. I get referred on a lot but nah, I’d say I’m good at it but I’m not the best at it. I just do what I do.
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