Tech by VICE

The Camgirl Voyeur

Lindsay Dye’s exhibit takes a unique perspective of the world of camgirls.

by Kaleigh Rogers
Feb 27 2015, 4:45pm

Image: ​Lindsay Dye

​Lindsay Dye's decision to become a camgirl was purely motivated by money. She had been kicked out of her apartment by her ex-boyfriend and needed a quick way to make some cash while she finished her studies. So at the recommendation of a friend she signed up for a site called MyFreeCams and started to perform.

"I knew I wasn't doing something right because I wasn't making money. So I would go into other women's chatrooms looking for a tutorial of what I should be doing," Dye told me.

But Dye, who was earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography at the Pratt Institute, saw photographic qualities in each woman's setup. The lighting, the framing, and the posing of the women before they removed their clothes reminded Dye of the classic photography styles she was studying in school. So she started to capture them.

Over the course of a year, she amassed thousands of screengrabs of camgirls, which she has now curated into a collection for her exhibit camgURLS at the Java Project in Brooklyn. The women in the photos were not aware Dye was capturing their image, and yet the candid stills appear surprisingly staged, which is what drew Dye to the idea in the first place. Even the empty rooms where the women performed surprised her, so she captured many of those for the collection as well.

"They're still sexual and suggestive. To me, that one looks like a woman's thighs spread open. That one looks like an asshole. It's crazy that these little things are insinuated even though it's not meant to look like that," she said.

The set that reminded Dye of thighs. Image: Lindsay Dye

The set that reminded Dye of a butt. Image: Lindsay Dye

Dye said she struggled with the ethical dilemma of making the images public without the consent of the performers, but when she found recordings from her own channel posted online without her permission, she decided to go forward with the project.

"It seems kind of like a cop-out, but I'm not the only person taking photographs of these women and I'm presenting it in a different way than them," Dye said. "I made a point not to put any photographs of them nude or pornographic images. That wasn't important. It was more about the women in the frame and how a photographer would see them."

Image: Lindsay Dye

Image: Lindsay Dye

Image: Lindsay Dye

Occasionally, men would request to share their camera stream with Dye and she collected still frames of them from those sessions, but decided not to include them in the exhibit. She felt they were more private and vulnerable than the women who were choosing to perform in front of an audience.

If you were to browse MyFreeCams today, you probably wouldn't find the same images as you'll see in Dye's exhibit. The most popular cam shows are very graphic and sexual, but she was fascinated by the performers doing something different for tens, instead of thousands, of viewers.

"The women I was drawn to were also the women that weren't necessarily making money but there was just something about each of them," Dye said. "A woman sleeping or a woman crying, the things I was drawn to were things that they shouldn't be doing while they're on camera."

camgURLS runs through March 7 at the Java Project in Brooklyn.