Txema Salvans is a Spanish photographer. He started life with a passion for science and nature, and through a small twist of fate ended up photographing prostitutes on Spanish back roads. Life’s a queer old fox sometimes ain’t she?
Prostitution in Spain is kind of in a legal limbo, it’s not technically illegal but it’s sort of not legal either. Because of this halfway house legality it’s not particularly rare to come across prostitutes touting their wares at the side of the road.
Salvans spent, in all, around 5 years travelling around Spain taking pictures of sex workers waiting to get picked up. In Spain, a lot of the fastest roads are toll roads, so plenty of people use the back routes as a cheaper alternative. These roads make a good place to pick up punters: they’re near scrub land or woods for hiding in, and you’re less likely to get hassled by the man. On the flip side, there’s no one around to hear you scream if things do go badly wrong.
Salvans didn’t just rock up to these waiting women, ask to take their picture and pay them for their time. He realised that if he told them what he was doing he would probably either get told to “frig off” or just get posed photos, which isn’t what he’s about. So he decided to go down the camouflage route.
He dressed up in a high-vis jacket and mounted his camera on one of those bright yellow topographer’s tripods. When he saw a girl, he stopped his van, told her that he would be taking some measurements for just a few minutes and that he would soon move on. This gave him ample time to snap some snaps without alarming them.
The results of this labour of love are dramatic. Partly because of the derelict, dusty backdrops and partly because your brain can’t help but imagine the bleakness in the models lives.
Skip through these depressingly beautiful photos over the following slides:
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