The first time I was introduced through Ryan McGinley's photography was from the Sigur Ros Album cover for Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. The image of group of young naked bodies running across a highway surrounded by fields. For Ryan McGinley, young nude bodies, scenes bursting with life and an immediate snap shot style came to be the trademarks of his work. McGinley's photos captured youth and wanderlust in a way that no one has done before and inspired a whole new generation of photographers to describe their journeys and lives.
"Don’t get lost inside your head, and don’t worry what camera you’re using." -Ryan McGinley. I totally agree too, we focus way to much on cameras but people also want to know...
Speaking to the Glenn Obrien, RIP, in Purple Magazine McGinly describes using a Yeshica 24 and a Leica R8. The 24 is likely a transcribing error for the Yashica T4 a legendary point and shoot camera that is becoming extremely rare and expensive. The Leica R8 is a professional SLR body from Leica that utilizes the R lenses, which is different than the more popular and widely known M rangefinder lenses. Leica makes a solid camera either way and these SLRs were geared at professionals wanting a great shooting experience and access to a legendary lens maker. In another interview with Gus Van Sant, McGinley describes using the full frame Canon 5d as well. This workhorse full frame camera still takes great images and has access to the wide and affordable line of Canon EF lenses.
If you can't afford the Yashica T4, I no longer can with it at $500, I'd recommend the Olympus Stylus Epic if your looking for a digital alternative the Canon S90 is a great shooter. Both are small, pocketable and take great images. For a Leica R8 alternative, a pretty great SLR is the Nikon FM which is fully manual with lenses that can be used on digital bodies as well.
From an interview with Gus Van Sant, it's a great read about making art as well.
What kind of film do you use?
If there is any style McGinley is known for it's getting people naked and taking photos.
I don't have too much personal experience with McGinley's book but his original, The Kids Were Alright is a classic photobook with the original now a collectors item. Whistle for the Wind is a more comprehensive monograph and contains many of McGinley's iconic photographs. If I could only have I'd start with Whistle for the Wind.