Ideas evolve, ideas change. Our way of looking at people, things, monuments, even human history has changed over years, the process is dynamic. Moments captured in a photograph show us best how things were, and how they are now. These images show how the idea of 'provocative' has evolved (or deteriorated, you decide) over the years.
What's so risky in these, you might ask. In the year 1912 in New Orleans, showing as much as your ankle was considered improper. These images, captured by Ernest J Bellocq, were discovered after his death. Here, have a look at how women were judged to be seductive, hence notorious by society in New Orleans in the year 1912.
To regulate prostitution and drugs, Storyville was established as the place where these women would live.
The images establish one thing, women's bodies were always taboo.
The photographer deserves credit. In a day and age when these women were frowned upon, he captured them in all their human-ness (if you may).
Out of the many debates that the series invoke, one particularly stands out. Have the ideas evolved in context with the female body, or have they deteriorated? Has the freedom to show more than our ankles marked a certain freedom, or reached a new level of objectification?
What continues to attract photographers, and garner admiration for the images is the perfect sync that can be seen between the photographer and the subjects. Please note (again) that this was in the year 1912, and prostitutes were not respected, or admired. But these images show them in all their elegance.
The elegance and pose of these women and the stories they have to tell is not something we'll know. But they definitely can make us think.