On Friday 17th March 2017, I sat in Studio 11, a room of mostly strangers, a group of about 30 or so invited attendees, and openly sobbed – full make up done for a girls night out too.
We were attending a Photography Exhibition for Inside Outside Scotland, a project looking at the lives of the very vulnerable women, who work in the sex industry in Scotland.
The photographs on display were taken themselves by these 4 incredible women – Levi, Natalie, Katie and Natalia (not their real names of course) – using their camera phones, who wanted to share their stories. We were very fortunate to be talked though each and every image by Linda Thomson, who is the lead for this project.
This project was taken to Holyrood last week, as was explained to us during our visit to Studio 11, and with a truly tremendous result – a motion by the SNP to back changes to prostitution laws, meaning that it will be an offense for anyone to buy sex, but not for someone to sell it. When this was announced at Friday evenings viewing of the exhibit, a loud cheer followed by hearty applause from the group was pretty special.
Being a very keen “amateur” photographer myself, my favourite hobby, I found every single image incredibly poignant, moving me to tears. One of these ladies, Katie has since been offered what was described as a “seriously amazing” job offer since sharing her story – her camera work is something very special, she is a very creative talented lady, I hope her new job allows her to express her creativity. Fundamentally though, she is getting out of the sex industry, a pretty amazing result in itself.
I felt very privileged to see those works of art on Friday night, and that is what they are, beautifully shot images all with a special meaning behind each and every one. I was exceptionally emotionally, something I hadn’t really prepared myself for.
I probably asked way too many questions, but the insight into their lives was quite frankly astounding – thank you for the opportunity of viewing a snippet of these amazing women’s incredibly dark and dangerous lives, and for the insight into their thought process behind the images they shared.