Richard Learoyd: “Presences”

The women look forlorn or flummoxed, and the question is why. Only Richard Learoyd and his semi-anonymous subjects know for sure, and they prefer to let his photographs do the talking. These life-sized images are one-offs: Each is done with an enormous camera obscura — a process that takes a whole workday to complete and leaves a single photo paper. He traffics in a similar realm to photographer Katy Grannan, whose anonymous shots of passersby put them literally in the harsh light of reality. With Learoyd, his subjects — many of them attractive women in their 20s and 30s — are willing participants in a series that has them strip off their clothing or strip away their joie de vivre. Even the ones with their backs to the camera are posed with their flesh in an almost lifeless state, as if the contours were those of a mannequin and not a model with very human feelings.

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