Philip Lorca diCorcia (1951)

‘Heads’ series

Described by art historian, Andrew Graham-Dixon (1) as the modern-day equivalent of Edward Hopper, Philip Lorca diCorcia is an American photographer based in New York. He also works as a senior critic at the Yale School of Art.

In 2001 Lorca completed his series entitled ‘Heads’. Shot in Time Square, New York, the series features street portraits of unaware passers-by. The technique employed by Laorca is interesting. In 2001 Time Square was undergoing much redevelopment, so Lorca attached strobe lights to the available scaffolding. Using a very long lens and the remotely triggered strobes, he captured the unsuspecting public.

Lorca is not averse to image manipulation. In this photograph, which he describes as his favourite (2), Lorca darkened the face of the girl (second left) as she was looking at him.

Lorca says he never has people looking at the camera as it acknowledges his presence.

During a lecture at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2), he discusses his attitude towards his the elliptical nature of his image-making. He says ‘I’m supposed to give you as little information, in my mind, as you need to be intrigued, but not enough to finish your experience’.

And when discussing the comparisons with Edward Hopper, Lorca says:

When people don’t look at the camera or the nominal viewer in a painting it’s always seen as inward. It is a bit of a cliche but it’s also one of the reasons why his work and my work is described as cinematic at times (1)

My takes outs from this research

I’m intrigued by the idea that these images could be captured during daylight using remotely triggered flashguns. I have no experience of using flash and I hadn’t realised this effect could be achieved. Something else I can buy maybe. Very interested in Lorca’s attitude towards subjects looking at the camera. I hadn’t considered that the averted gaze would create the inward, psychological, cinematic feel to an image. I will experiment with this effect during the forthcoming sessions.

Examples of Lorca’s work:


(1) Lorca diCarcio, E. and Graham-Dixon, A., 2014. Art Of America Episode 2. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 April 2020].

(2) Lorca diCorcia, P., 2020. Tuesday Evenings At The Modern – Philip Lorca Dicorcia. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 April 2020].

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