Morganna Magee | Showgirls, 2005
Morganna Magee is a social documentary photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. Her work covers young single mothers to people living with severe illness or disability. She's part of a well respected collective of independent documentary photographers called the Many Australian Photographers (MAP) group and her work has been awarded numerous National and International awards. For Morganna, the urge to document comes from the "old adage – take a walk in someone else's shoes for a while. I really believe photography can open our eyes to how people live and force us to question our preconceptions. It is a lot harder to judge someone when they are staring back at you. We are inundated with imagery 24/7 but it's the brilliant photos that make you question your own prejudice that stand out to me" (Rubeli, 2015).
For her series Showgirls, 2005, she positioned herself backstage at a strip club and used rolls of film photography to make the images. Here she talks about the experience and how the tools afforded her with a slower process and a welcomed freedom to photograph in a way she wanted.
"I was acutely aware of how many times strippers had been photographed in a sympathetic way. I wanted to avoid this as I had no interest in who the girls were outside of work or what made them strip. What interested me was the bizarreness of the backstage, the boredom the women often showed and the way it was so like many other jobs. When they were onstage they would put on an over-sexed act but backstage they sat around eating dinner, complaining about their boyfriends and laughing about how their tampons had fallen out during a private dance. In this environment, the only sleaze came from the customers, whom the women regularly made fun of back stage. The whole thing was so banal to them and I spent rolls and rolls of film trying to get shots where the girls weren't posing and pouting at me.
Sure, some of them had sad stories like the girl with the tattoo that said 'Dad' who had an amphetamine addiction coupled with the saddest eyes I have ever seen, but then there were others like the girl with the Playboy tattoo who were complete attention seekers. The validation both from customers and the cash earned, meant a lot of these women felt empowered, liberated and in complete control.
I was allowed incredible access which was, in part, due to my being the same age as a lot of the women, but also in a pre-digital world, no one particularly cared about seeing the photos. I developed and printed all the rolls of film and would print in contact sheets weeks after I had taken the photos to show the women. Sometimes they reacted with giggles, other times complete indifference. I now believe this slower process was integral to me having the freedom to photograph the way I wanted to."
You can see more of Morganna's work here.