William Eggleston, Photographer

An interesting short documentary in English (first half) and German (second half) on William Eggleston, a pioneer in colour photography. He describes his photographs as being about ‘life today’.  He fostered a personal work discipline early on as he did not like to edit down his photographs. So he decided only to shoot one frame of any particular subject and this he still does. Eggleston is self taught, but was heavily influenced by Cartier-Bresson. His trademarks are the motifs that he places around the edges of his frames and also the drastic cropping of people. He preferred to use natural light. People are not regarded as subjects in his photographs, but rather he reduces them to colour or form – they become part of the composition. He states in the documentary that the colour red is very difficulty to work with, but he is not sure why, possibly because it is at war with all the other colours.

He enlarges his photos and uses a dye transfer process that was more commonly used by commercial and fashion photography. This is characterized by a high degree of colour saturation, contrast and brilliance. By manipulating and exaggerating the colours, he creates a sense of artificiality and drama, rather like a painter would. His colour accents create sense of apprehension and unease, underlining the feeling of the uncanny in his pictures.

A good insight into William Eggleston and well worth the watch. The English section stops at around 26 mins 11 secs.

Reference List

William Eggleston, Photographer. Reiner Holzemer Film [ webcast]. Published 2008. 52 mins 44 secs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O2Oz6lQ7bs (accessed 17/8/2014).

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