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Cady Arruda
April 13, 2015
William Eggleston

William Egglestons photography particularly caught my eye. His photography seemed so


contrasting that it drew me in. They are old-fashioned yet vibrant. They
are faded yet lively. They are simple yet they tell a story. Upon viewing
his photographs I was instantly brought back to my childhood growing
up in a small country town relating to his photographs focusing on
ordinary Americans and landscapes. Eggleston grew up in Tennessee
and lots of his photographs were taken there exposing ordinary life in a
small town down south in the 1970s. (Francis)
Eggleston grew up in Tennessee and lots of his photographs were taken
there exposing ordinary life in a small town down south. Born into
wealth, Eggleston grew up on his familys former cotton plantation in
the Mississippi Delta and, as a teenager, attended a boarding school in
Tennessee. Because of the geographic milieu in which Eggleston often

worked, his photographs were sometimes characterized as reflections


on the South, though he pointedly resisted such interpretations,
claiming an interest in his subjects chiefly for their physical and formal
qualities rather than for any broader significance. (Leonis)
In the late 1960s, his primary medium was color transparency film, and
he is credited with having made a huge contribution towards its validation as an accepted art
form. In 1973, he discovered dye-transfer printing and started using it extensively, partly because

of the brilliant color saturation it affords. He became known as "the father of color photography"
for his striking photos of people, events and landscapes in the South. The use of the dye-transfer
technique enables William Eggleston to add a psychological component to the atmosphere of his
photographs. Eggleston often photographs his subject matter from unusual angles. In the early
1970s, Eggleston discovered dye-transfer printing on a trip to Chicago. (Maywell) He was in a
large photo lab and saw their price list for prints. The dye-transfers were the most expensive but
they were described as the ultimate color print. Then in 1957 he got his first camera, a Canon
rangefinder, which he'd soon trade in for a Leica. And then his world began to change.
I don't particularly like what's around me. Said Eggleston. His friend responded That could
be a good reason to take pictures. Eggleston said, You know, that's not a bad idea. (Elderberk)
Eggleston at first was inspired by the work of photographer Robert Frank, and the images in his
book, "The Americans," as well as Henri Cartier-Bresson's "The Decisive Moment" and Walker
Evans' "American Photographs." Cartier-Bresson had originally trained as an artist, too, and
Eggleston recognized that his subtle use of geometry and composition echoed the Impressionist
paintings of Edgar Degas. (Francis)
William Eggleston used to work with a moderate wide-angle lens during his 'Guide' days.
The combination of exaggerated perspective and the subjectively controlled coloration of his
dye-transfer prints exactly suited his artistic purpose. More recently, however, Eggleston has
mainly been using a standard lens in conjunction with the relatively low-cost production of
normal prints from color negatives, so-called C-prints. The perspective of photograph conveys
this sense of unrestricted freedom and transports us momentarily back into our childhood, though
entirely without nostalgia. And it is precisely this lack of nostalgia, the cold and aloof way the
artist treats his subject matter, that shocks us. It is as though we were looking at a psychogram of

American everyday life, and of American middle-class society in particular. (Leonis) The
interplay of color, form and content in Eggleston's photographs gives completely normal things
or situations an additional level of meaning, turning them into visual metaphors of an alienated
world. (Seaburg)

The first photographs of Egglestons I choose is title Glass on an Airplane. The picture
Glass in Airplane was from his Los Alamos Portfolio 1965 74 (Martin). and is a very simple
shot that beautifully encapsulates the promise of air travel. Apparently taken en route to New
Orleans, sunlight hits an iced drink of rum & coke
creating a strong shadow on an airplane tray. A
hand holding a swizzle stick against small puffy
white clouds visible through the plane window. It
really captures the killing of time, just twiddling the
straw & dreaming. This photo screams vintage. It is
a

glass on one of the fold out tables on a plane. Its


old fashioned looking, the shadow of the glass is
casted on the table its shades of browns and
oranges. You can see the clouds and blue sky out

the window. Airplane travel was important, stylish, you felt important on a plane. Traveling is
excitingIt is almost like he wants us to create a story of our own through his photography.
Automatically this William Eggleston photograph reminds me of the times when airplane travel
was a big deal. People use to dress up to get on a plane and it was also a lot easier to get on a
plane back then as well. They use to serve glass instead of plastic cups. This photo in general
reminds of the good old days. Now air travel is a hassle and the glamour in air travel is virtually
no existent. This photograph reminds me of the fun in traveling. Sometimes we let the stress of
traveling and airports in general get in the way of how cool traveling really is.
The next photograph I chose is called Black Bayou Plantation. It was taken in Glendora,
Mississippi in 1970; printed in 1980 and is yet another dye transfer print. This one is completely

different, it doesnt show glamour of a plane and a drink, it just shows the dusty ground and
simple life. Shows dry land, showing struggles for farmers at this time, could have been a time
when not much was being produced
and money was scarce. This
influences my work because I live in a
small town that shows similar
landscapes and I think its important
to find the beauty in them. (Rajon)
I was drawn to choose the next
photograph due to the perfect twilight colors. This photograph is untitled, and a dye transfer.
(Sousa) The twilight setting of this photo
works really well because it makes the neon
signs that much brighter without them
distorting the picture. The photo is of an old
roadside burger joint. The twilight setting of
this photo works really well because it
makes the neon signs that much brighter
without them distorting the picture. It is able to capture how old and broken this building is while
also showing that it is full of life and personality.

I like this one because it shows two things I love and couldnt live without, mud and cowboy
boots. The composition is put together very nicely and shows a simple message again showing
southern life. This image really connects to me because I am always wearing my cowboy boots

and always getting muddy. This


photograph captures the heart of a
country soul. Luke Bryan said it best
when he said Where I come from,
rain is a good thing. This proves true
down south where farming is very
important and where theres mud that
means the ground it wet which is
always good for farmers so this photograph instantly shows goodness.

William Eggleston captures ordinary everyday urban American life from unexpected
perspectives. His control of form, and the way in which he frames his subjects, invests his
photography with a certain narrative potential and theatricality. It is clear he wanted to step
outside of the box and make these colors known to the world. He's subject and concept of his
work is that he finds beauty in just ordinary scenes. (Seaburg) This photographer contributes to
the realm of photography because he brought beauty in his pictures by using color that was rare
at the time. What attracted me to Eggleston was just how he could take these original pictures
and they are just amazing. The colors stick out and make it look vintage and it attracts your
attention. I just really like his style of photography and just how plan and beautiful it is. I am
now a huge William Eggleston fan. I love his philosophies when it comes to photographing such
as his democratic approach, how he finds the beauty in the mundane, and his sharp eye for
finding fascinating color combinations. Most of his photos dont have people in them, but I think

that sometimes photographs are even more interesting without them anyways. The simple cocacola on a hood of an old Ford at sunset can almost seem more alive than a real person

Works Cited
Elderberk, John. The World of Color . 10 May 2008. Print. 13 April 2015.
Francis, Amelia. William Eggleston Photography . 18 December 2007. Print. 5 April 2015.

Leonis, Heather. William Egglestons Color Photograghy . 15 June 2010. Print . 13 April 2015.
Martin, Henry G. Glass on an Airplane . 17 Decemeber 2011. Print . 13 April 2015.
Maywell, Ruth. Eggleston and his Works . 14 October 2009. Print . 13 April 2015.
Rajon, Maybelle. William Eggleston. 6 January 2011. Print. 3 April 2015.
Seaburg, Lyle. William Eggleston Photography . 19 April 2007. Print . 7 April 2015.
Sousa, Rain. William Eggleston . 4 June 2013. Print. 13 April 2015.