Jane Hilton first encountered Madam Kitty’s Cathouse in 1998. In 2000 she was commissioned by the BBC to make ten documentary films in this brothel and one other close by, both situated in Nevada, U.S.A. These films took three years to make. In 2012 Jane decided to return with her plate camera.
Although prostitution is one of the oldest professions that have been made legal in Nevada, it is still not socially acceptable. Precious is a collection of intimate nude portraits of working girls and their stories. This book gives the viewer an opportunity to leave behind any preconceptions. The women are from different cultural backgrounds, ages and body shapes, which also challenge the traditional idea of beauty.
By choosing to photograph the girls with a plate camera that took hours of their patience, it became a very bonding experience. As issues about their own body shapes became apparent, their own feelings about their journey as a working girl was also enlightening. In some cases this became a very positive and cathartic experience. Jane was privileged to be allowed to stay in many of the brothels, which contributed to the trust these girls have given her.
“Precious” is defined as something of “unique value” or someone “dear or beloved”. What people consider as precious is entirely subjective though, as is of course beauty.
Over the last two decades, Jane Hilton has documented different facets of American culture. Growing up in suburban England, in contrast to the wide-open spaces of America, and spending Sunday afternoons watching Westerns with her dad has contributed to Hilton’s affection for the Wild West. Jane Hilton lives in London. Her work is regularly published in the Saturday Telegraph Magazine and the Sunday Times Magazine.
Precious is Jane Hilton’s second monograph. Her first, Dead Eagle Trail, on cowboys of the twenty-first century, was published by Schilt Publishing in 2010 and became a great success.