William Eggleston Is All I Can Think About

BY Anum Bashir

It's no surprise by now that the world of contemporary art has been a key source of inspiration for me over the years. Having worked at a museum for well over half a decade, I often times found myself far more drawn to the works of artists than fashion designers (dare I say). Such is the case with William Eggleston - A revered American photographer who single-handedly changed the perception of color photography around the early 1970s, onwards.

These past few weeks, during my typical late night web surfing sessions, and plagued by insomnia, I've been searching far and wide for inspiration of all kinds. Since embarking upon a new direction for DM, I'm more eager than ever to create content that lends itself to works I'm incredibly drawn to. 

It might even be subconscious, this desire to once again link my shoots back to artists' work, as I am quite nostalgic about the years I spent at Qatar Museums. 

So just like the title reads, William Eggleston has been a particular point of focus - a man described as "mischievous, beguiling, puzzling and fascinating, all in nearly equal measure," by the New York Times.

 All I could think to myself was, "I want to be like that."

Plus, being married to a photographer only helps facilitate that further. Waqas and I have had a many late night chats about what made Eggleston's work so interesting and groundbreaking. Mind you, he's a fan too. We discussed how at a time when black and white photography was the primarily practiced medium, Eggleston put forth imagery with bursts of highly saturated color, and presented it as a bona fide artistic practice to be showcased within the contemporary art world. 

He also discovered the dye-transfer printing process during his time teaching at Harvard University - a method predominantly used by the advertising industry at the time.

Here, see for yourself. What do you make of it? Does it spark anything in you too?

The process also resulted in some of Eggleston's most iconic and striking works, such as his 1973 photograph entitled The Red Ceiling, of which Eggleston said, "The Red Ceiling is so powerful, that in fact I've never seen it reproduced on the page to my satisfaction. When you look at the dye it is like red blood that's wet on the wall.... A little red is usually enough, but to work with an entire red surface was a challenge."

What I find so intriguing though is that Eggleston's subjects are often so ordinary and uninvolving, including empty coke bottles, oranges, heavily worn shoes under a bed, but the manner in which they are shot creates a highly captivating experience for the viewer. He is undoubtedly a master when it comes to capturing light, but it's the dye-transfer printing process, resulting in those vibrant colors that helps to create the signature William Eggleston piece. 

"The extraordinary, compelling, honest, beautiful and unsparing photographs all have to do with the quality of our lives in the ongoing world: they succeed in showing us the grain of the present, like the cross-section of a tree.... They focus on the mundane world. But no subject is fuller of implications than the mundane world!" 

Eudora Welty

Now that we've been briefly schooled on William Eggleston's work, and I've shared some of my favorite photos of his with you, do you see where I'm coming from with this whole inspiration this?

Next week, the challenge is to recreate this vibe on a shoot. Let's see if I come close. 

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