Photo project

For Rent: Escort Boys in a Series by a British Photographer

To support commercial sex workers, British photographer Jessica Kelly has photographed young men who work at an escort agency for half a year.
Jessica Kelly

British photographer, lives in London. Graduated from Kingston College, is studying at Ravensbourne University. Winner of AOP Open Awards (2015) and Magnum Photography Awards in 2016.

— I shot my series ‘Boys’ for my final major project at university, I wanted to capture a series that would challenge my abilities and that could help bring awareness to an industry that is hidden from society. The series brings thoughtfulness, awareness and shines a positive light on an industry that is associated with taboos and negativity.

The men in this series all work as escorts in London’s sex industry. I was inspired by the lifestyle, environment and most importantly the individuals. I shot this project over a period of 6 months in either their homes or a hotel room, I paid each of the guys for their time.

My first communication with each of my subjects was in the form of email through online male escort directories. I wanted to make sure that it was informative, professional but most of all friendly. The emails would then lead to phone calls and occasionally a preshoot meetup to discuss the project and shoot in more detail.

The series shines a positive light on an industry which is associated with taboos and negativity.

Because I’ve never done anything like this before, I didn’t really know how it would pan out. I didn’t know whether they would allow me to take their photograph so I went into it with an open mind, excited to pursue this project. I would always give them the option to stay anonymous and the majority of them wanted to have their identity shown. And what I also found amazing is that as soon as I met them I felt I’d known them for so long. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s that sort of industry where they’re there to make their client feel comfortable and at ease but I felt like I could tell them anything. It was a nice feeling, to talk to someone who was really listening to you.

As soon as I met them I felt I’d known them for so long.

I am now collaborating with the National Ugly Mugs charity which aims to support the industry’s workers by improving their safety, ending violence against sex workers and fighting stigma. With their support I can continue on building, capturing the changes that time brings to the industry and the men that work within it expanding the series across the UK.

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