Precious is Jane Hilton’s second monograph and comes after a decade of frequenting Nevada’s legal brothels, having originally been commissioned to shoot a series of documentary films. Returning with her plate camera, Hilton has captured a range of beautifully lit, intimate portraits of the women in their working environments. Extra layers of perspective and context arrive in the form of 31 personal accounts at the back of the book, ranging from the frank and frivolous, to hard-hitting personal stories of tragedy and loss. The project strives to avoid the clichés of traditional representation, although it perhaps falls slightly short of its noble ambitions. Hilton describes wanting to show the “real souls” of her sitters and how, after originally photographing the women in their working outfits, she realised that “one couldn’t get past the fact that they are hookers”. However, a firm critique of the work would surely offer questions along the following lines: do these nude photographs – despite their compelling tenderness – truly allow the audience to successfully negate the stigma surrounding the subjects’ profession?
£35 / 104pp / April 2013 / Schilt Publishing
Reviewed by James D. Clark
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