Nan Goldin‘s photos are painful and autobiographical. In her landmark collection The Ballad of Sexual Dependancy she documented her relationships and the close circle of friends she termed her ‘family’, she described her work as “the diary I let people read.”
They are typically richly coloured and dream like. Her style fits within the ‘snapshot aesthetic’, images which feel more real or which seem to have more truth because of their imperfections. They are deliberately taken with little regard to traditional composition and without worrying too much about getting exposure or other technical details perfect.
Her signature image Nan and Brian in Bed shows Goldin and her partner bathed in a warm orange glow, the haziness contrasting with the vulnerabilty and tension shown on their faces. It’s part of a series that documents the collapse of the relationship but it’s an image that has a very strong internal narrative and can stand very much on its own.
Her more recent work has been more varied, I’ve always liked her series of portraits reflected in water, a simple effect which creates an uncanny, dreamy view of the world. Here she’s lost in the golden glow of the water.
There’s a great Guardian interview here where she talks about her career.