Sometimes when wondering the streets with my camera I get the feeling that sometimes objects I come across, its as if they were left there just for me. Like they were meant for me to take their picture, and I would be doing it and the world a disservice by not photographing it. William Eggleston’s photograph’s seem to have a sense of urgency to them. It’s as if he knows that some of these subjects will disappear soon, or move, be discarded. Many of his subjects are very transient and mobile, but not necessarily quick moving, but at the same time not necessarily permanent. You can definitely feel the influence of Henri Cartier-Bresson in his work. It’s as if he leaves and breathes for that “decisive moment.”
I tend to stay away from taking pictures of animals, pets specifically, and babies. Its hard to get people to look beyond the cute exterior of the image. Eggleston is definitely not playing the cute-card in this one as he is totally obscuring the dog’s face. I get the feeling that this picture is more about a sense of place than it is what the dog looks like. Below I have included a picture, that also happens to include a dog, but he is really just another piece of the puzzle, so to speak.
Eggleston’s work always seems to hint at something out of frame. Maybe not even just physically, but chronologically as well. As if we are about to see something else, or even that we have just missed it.
Eggleston’s colors definitely come to the forefront here in this image, with his use of the dye-transfer method. Here I feel we have a celebration of a celebration. A celebration of color, but also just by simply pointing his lens at this adornment, we the viewer are now a part of this.
Again, Eggleston’s penchant for the mundane illustrates for me sense that he is attempting to draw attention to that which we commonly overlook. It is telling that this photography comes from the monograph “Ancient and Modern” as here we have just that. Also here I get the feeling that Eggleston feels like it is his responsibility to document this subject. In the photo below, I found this in Prospect Park. Just as someone found it necessary to deface a fence, I found it necessary to capture within the frame of my lens.
As with many of Eggleston’s photograph’s I sometimes get the feeling that some of his subjects seem to be have been left behind just for the sole purpose of him capturing them. As if they were left there just for him. That may seem silly, but I think he would appreciate that sentiment. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt the same way, otherwise I don’t think he would have chosen the subjects that he did. Objects like the neglected and forgotten swingset above would have never garned a second glance had Eggleston not turned his lens its way. He connected with its presence, its existence and form by way of the camera allowing us the viewer to do the same. I would not go so far as to personify the inanimate objects within his pictures, but Eggleston understood that there is beauty in the simple and the discarded.
According to the introduction to William Eggleston’s Guide, written by John Szarkowski, he claims by Eggleston’s own account “that the nominal subjects of his pictures were no more than a pretext for the making of color photographs.” Szarkowsky goes on to say that he doesn’t believe that for a second. He knows better.
Eggleston seems sometimes to go out of his way to remove all intent from his photographs, as if that would somehow clutter up the the image. When his first exhibit at MoMA in 1976 was shown, color photography was considered pedestrian and was not an accepted medium in the fine art world. He seems to thumb his nose at that suggestion, not just with the use of the medium itself but with the subject matter portrayed within, itself which could be considered pedestrian.
Here his colors are striking. His use of the available light and dye-transfer printing method make for an almost surreal atmosphere, like something out of a movie. I could not help to think of a photograph I took in my neighborhood for a series I did on Astoria Blvd., aptly titled the “The Blvd.” I wanted to capture the scene as devoid of human presence as possible as to capture a sense of place. For I feel this place has just as much personality and feeling to as any one person.