Urban Landscape: William Eggleston

Another photographer that I have been interested in when doing my research for the Urban Landscape project is William Eggleston. What I think is most distinctive about his work is his use of colour as he uses transparency film which is very rare now and expensive to process as not many places develop it anymore, but I feel that it has a very different quality and vibrancy that normal colour film doesn’t have. I also think that his compositions are always well thought out and the horizons are always perfectly straight, allowing not too much foreground or background, they are well balanced images.

The images above are from the book William Eggleston’s Guide which was published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1976 and includes an essay by John Szarkowski.

Within his essay John Szarkowski discusses the way we look at photography and its relation to life; how we differ which part is art and which is just a documentation of the everyday, how colour photography was looked at in the beginning and also Eggleston’s series of images that are within the book.
Szarkowski wrote that the images are about Eggleston’s home, his place and hold part of his identity (1976, pg.6) and the photographs are from a 375 essay which Eggleston completed in 1971 which he thought were just as isolated as a family album as Eggleston photographed family in his images (1976, pg.10). Szarkowski thought in fact that Eggleston’s images and subjects were no more interesting than our own family albums “…and don’t identify themselves as representatives of a general human condition.” but are simply present within the photographs (1976, pg.11).
It is also stated that Eggleston’s photographs within the series of images are based compositionally on the Confederate flag (1976, pg.11).

To conclude Szarkowski believed that Eggleston’s images were simply concerned with describing every day life, and did not have any higher meaning than this as his photographs were taken where he grew up and in neighbouring towns.


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