Philip-Lorca DiCorcia

Philip-Lorca DiCorcia is an American photographer. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and attended Yale University where he received a Master of Fine Arts in Photography in 1979. He now teaches at Yale University lives and works in New York.

DiCorcia is known for his hyper-real, staged images that appear as documentary images.  A dark cynicism permeates his work, in which he carefully stages intensely intimate moments of observation that speak to broader universal truths, from his early-90s work Hustlers on male prostitution to his newest series, East of Eden, which alludes to post-2008 societal bewilderment. (Singer, O. 2014)

Although being staged, as a viewer you might question if they are actually staged or are they just a chance encounter? This is particularly evident in the series ‘Hustlers.’ This series was set at Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood where a significant population of drug addicts and prostitutes are located. For each one that he encountered, he took pictures of them but in return he paid them their usual rate for sex. These pictures may not look heavily constructed but for each picture he had already predetermined a location and set up his 6×7 Linhof view camera and lights. He would meticulously run through this several times until he had the perfect set up for his images. It was only then that he would find a subject for his photo. It was an important element that he photographed at dusk so that he create the right atmosphere in his images. That being to represent the underside of Hollywood.

The way that diCorcia represents his subject is cinematic, they almost look like stills from a movie. To me, this juxtaposes the subject matter and message being portrayed and creates a unlikely reality. But as these photographs are of places in America where people make it in the film industry, perhaps this effect was created as a way of representing the opposite side of the scale, but in a way that makes them appear as movie stars.

What interests me most about diCorcia’s photographs is this dramatised lighting and use of colour in commonly subtle ways. These staged scenes tell a story about each individual being photographed. And this is something that we want to put across in our group project this week. By mixing influences from diCorcia, Hisaji Hara and the film noir period. I think we will be able to create something new and interesting as a photographic piece.


Philip-Lorca diCorcia (2015) David Zwirner. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2015).

Bicker, P. (2013) ‘Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s Groundbreaking Portraits of Hustlers | LightBox |’, Lightbox. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2015).

Singer, O. (2014) ‘The unseen America of Philip-Lorca diCorcia’, Dazed. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2015).

© Kirstie Wilkinson


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