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Julie, sex worker, Bradford - Si Barber, 2010

1 January 2011

This is one of a series of pictures of street prostitutes working in Bradford, West Yorkshire. They are intended to show what kerb-crawlers encounter before deciding to part with their cash.

Until recently street prostitution in Bradford was quietly tolerated by the authorities and the police, as long as it happened after dark and not in residential areas. It’s the bottom rung of the commercial sex ladder and is undertaken almost exclusively by women and men who need to raise cash to support their addiction to class A drugs. It’s a hazardous occupation.

Apart from the risk from violent punters, the women also face danger from groups of men who seek to rob them of their takings. Julie needs about £60 a day to provide her with enough heroin to get by. When she is short of money, which is most days, she would go to Sunbridge Road and work, sometimes until 4am.

When I met her she had serviced two punters and needed another £15.00 before she could call her dealer who would then provide her with enough heroin for the next 24 hours. £15.00 was the price I paid to photograph her. As I was photographing her she said that some of the punters take pictures on their mobile phones whilst having sex with her so they can show their friends.

I photographed eight sex workers over about a week in Bradford. I had intended to do more but there seemed little point as this picture said it all for me. I shot the pictures on a Nikon F100 loaded with Fuji Reala negative film. The flash was bounced off the car interior.

Si Barber is a freelance photographer based in Norfolk. He shoots for newspaper and corporate clients. The image of Julie comes from his book The Big Society, Snapshots of 21st Century Britain published in 2010.

Photographer since 2000. EPUK member since 2003.

See more work by Si Barber

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