Photography has long been the everyman medium, but these days it seems that every single one of us is a photographer, our cameras inseparable from our experience of everyday life. In a rapidly proliferating visual culture, as notions of photography are increasingly processed through ubiquitous Instagram filters, distinctive photographic voices are becoming subsumed within a mass of uniformity. Yet in the face of this encroaching homogeneity, an exhibition at the Galleria Carla Sozzani in Milan is a firm declaration of individuality; a showcase of those rare artists whose work is so unique that one only needs to glance at a picture to recognise their particular aesthetic.
The cultivation of a personal visual language comes about through various elements, be it a location that is integral to the work or a particular camera, perhaps chronicling a certain counter culture or working in a strictly controlled environment. Henri Cartier-Bresson sought out the "decisive moment", Irving Penn mastered the still life, in the words of Jack Kerouac, Robert Frank "sucked a sad poem right out of America on to film", while the other great street photographer, William Klein, mixes irony and innovation to capture the urban anxiety of New York. To celebrate the last days of PHOTOGRAPHY in Milan, before it tours to Japan and New York, we consider the trademark styles of the prestigious participants, the elements of their craft that makes their work so uniquely their own.
Ryan McGinley – grass; nudity; freedom; happiness; youth; escape; hedonism.
William Eggleston – Americana; mundane; signage; light; faded; poetry.
Nan Goldin – vintage; nudity; extreme characters; cigarettes; intimacy; vulnerability.
Terry Richardson – studio; fresh; raw; controlled; vivid; New York.
Stephen Shore – banal; Americana; objects; roadtrip; deadpan; snapshot.
Text by Tish Wrigley