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Monday, 02 May 2011


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Michael Almereyda offered some samples with accompanying remarks by William Eggleston on The Paris Review Daily blog last November when the book was released.

I know that Eggleston shot a lot of his well-known pictures hand-held with Leicas. Also, from what I've read in various places, it seems he used Kodachrome for quite some time and then switched to color negative film. But no matter whether he used 64 ASA or 400 ASA film, there are some indoor pictures of his where I'm simply wondering how he did it technically.

Take the cover picture of "For Now" as an example. It certainly doesn't look as if it had been shot wide open and it's too sharp to be shot at 1/15 of a second or slower. But it looks like the room was only lit by a window behind the photographer and I have a hard time imagining Eggleston with a flash or a tripod.

Strange. I wouldn't know how to do this. Am I missing something?

This book will be waiting on my doorstep when I get home today. Can't wait!

Sounds like a cool book - I'm gonna check it out. Thanks for the post.

Usually these latter day compilations consist of a few discarded scraps rummaged from a legacy name's attic or basement. Throw in a couple of anecdotes, a couple of photos of the actual manila envelopes that held the remains along with a few discarded food wrappers handled by the the artist himself, and voila- instant must have art book celebrating both art and artist himself.

This is most definitely not the case. The reproductions are luscious and many of the photographs themselves could have been included in the original Guide.

PS- Also loved the part when asked if photography revealed some kinda truth- to which the Big E responds that he always thought himself somewhat the liar.


I am a fan of Eggleston and do very much enjoy his work. Your description of "For Now" was delicious. I can just picture what a delight the book will be to hold and view. Something about the line "colour negative film" made the thought jump into my head that surely behind every great photographer there is a great lab. How else could such gorgeous reproductions of negs from ages ago be born into today's work of art?

I still shoot film but I am coming to the end of my tether as lab after lab return roughed up negs, shitty scans or any manner of damage that makes me want to light my hair on fire and jump off the building.

Were things better in the old days?
Should I just take my lumps as part of a "special" group that likes to suffer for their art?

I got my book of Broken Empire last week and was also disapointed by the pictures across the the gutter. I've sold books for this reason as I could never enjoy the pictures fully this way.
This book will not be sold even with the across gutter prints and I think that is because the text alongside each pictue adds a layer. I look past the information lost in the gutter and get a deeper meaning from the text, it is the tipping point that keeps me coming back.

I ordered the book, but really only because I loved the 'Guide'. I find Eggleston's work strangely attractive for its insight into the era. I bought the 'Guide' at first for the front image alone - mostly because it so perfectly captures the rising importance of the child in the fifties and sixties - which is a deep psychological response to WWII's pain and destruction. I am looking forward to seeing this new set images to find out what else he saw in this intriguing time period.

Okay, I bought it. It had better be good.

"PS- Also loved the part when asked if photography revealed some kinda truth- to which the Big E responds that he always thought himself somewhat the liar."

I don't think you're reading that right...what he says is, "I don't like to think of myself as a liar." They just broke the "don't" off the front, like this:

"'I don't,' William Eggleston slowly answered, 'like to think of myself as a liar.'"

I misread it too, first time through.


"I bought it. It had better be good."

Don't forget Amazon has a liberal return policy.


A beautiful book that's been on my shelf since December. Still on a quest for "Los Alamos" though. Hoping they'll reprint it. I don't mind getting a 2nd or a 3rd ed hardcover copy at all.

Shoot! Guess that's what happens when you can't afford all these wonderful, beautiful books and can only enjoy them in the bookstore! Much as I lusted for this, I got another by a different photographer since I already have a couple by Eggleston.

Well well, TOP is costing me deep in the purse ... It began with the HCB pocket, followed by the Soth catalogue 'From here to there [...]', then came Stephen Shore's 'The nature of photography', and now Eggleston. Have to rearrrange my bookshelves even. What this all comes down to, is that one M. Johnston in far away America is opening up (with a little help from the Internet) the world of photography for me, while I thought I knew it quite well already.
Thank you Mike, but please make it a nice b&w pocketbook next time around, will you?

Thanks for the heads up — should arrive soon.

I pick up "Eggleston's Guide" every few months as a kind of refresher course for my eye.

Speaking of new books, I just got my copy of Birthe Piontek's "The Idea of North" as part of my Critical Mass loot — really gorgeous. One of my favorite new releases. Check it out. Here's the Photoeye purchase page, which lets you preview a few pages in the book. http://bit.ly/lUgcwk

>> Strange. I wouldn't know how to do this. Am I missing something?

Hi Edi, The cover shot looks to me like it was shot from the doorway of the bedroom. Something I've done many times is brace the camera up against a door jamb to hold it steady. When I first saw the cover shot I imagined him doing this. I also take a lot of low light shots by setting down the camera and using the 2 second timer.

I like your blog. Taking a photo a day (in 2005) was probably the most beneficial thing I've ever done, photographically speaking.

John F.

Not sure if anyone mentioned this, but Michael Almereyda directed the documentary "William Eggleston in the Real World," which provides a terrific inside view of WE's work and process. In fact, his great eye for (and insightful commentary regarding) WE's work is why I bought the book.

I'm not disappointed by the book, but "Los Alamos" is still tops for me.

By the way, the documentary shows that Eggleston indeed sometimes uses a tripod. It also shows that, in addition to the Leica M-something rangefinder he's often associated with, Eggleston also uses a Mamiya Super 23 (with a 6x9 back, I believe) and a Contax G1 or G2.


5PM, CDT time.

I just tried to buy. Both are sold out.

Gosh darn it!


I still shoot film but I am coming to the end of my tether as lab after lab return roughed up negs, etc

Were things better in the old days?
I have no idea, but I've gotten really nice, pristine results from Philadelphia Photographics. (Returned in photo-file sleeves no less!) Scanning, however, is ludicrously expensive, or not good, or both, no matter what you do. I haven't tried their custom darkroom printing though. It might be quite good, but it's too rich for my blood. (Minimum $500 order needed before printing!)

Should I just take my lumps as part of a "special" group that likes to suffer for their art?
The answer is almost always no. Seriously, no snark intended. Taking lumps is a pain - a signal that something is wrong that needs to be fixed. If something technical is getting in the way of your vision, be ruthless in overcoming it.* E.g. Ctien deciding to go to a Pentax 6x7 back when they cost as much as a modern day Pentax 645D, because he was dissatisfied with the level of captured detail in 35mm film.**


*If you are looking for alternatives, a used Olympus DSLR can go for as little as $350, which is roughly the cost of 35 rolls of 36exp Portra 400, including developing, but not shipping, handling, or prints. An E-PL1 goes for $380-400. I'm not saying to ditch film, but that you have some inexpensive options you may not have considered. In the interest of disclosure I still shoot a little film and own the above described digital cameras.
**as I recall. I may be mis-remembering, and I don't want to put words in his mouth.

"I still shoot film but I am coming to the end of my tether as lab after lab return roughed up negs, shitty scans or any manner of damage that makes me want to light my hair on fire and jump off the building."

Yes. I have about half a freezer full of color film, and the processing problem has me wondering whether I should just sell it on eBay and be done. All the local labs are gone, and I've used several (many?) of the well-known mail order ones, with spotty results.

As long as I can buy chemicals, however, I won't be selling my Tri-X.

Thanks Mike,

I just got my copy from Amazon today. If anyone is still looking, Twin Palms still seems to have it in stock, along with the First Edition for $200 : www.twinpalms.com/?p=forthcoming&bookID=4

John and Yuanchung (in case you're still reading this),

Thanks for your replies. I know the Almereyda film (I even have it on DVD), but I must have missed the part where Eggleston uses a tripod. Have to watch it again.

I did a bit of research online because I somehow found this topic interesting. And after revisiting some of Eggleston's pictures I was also quite sure that at least some of his pictures (the shoes under the bed or the refrigerator come to mind) were pretty obviously shot with flash.

Anway, here's what I found:

From http://www.artslant.com/chi/articles/show/15504:

"When he was asked (in 2001 for a Thames & Hudson catalog of his work) when he employed flash and why, Eggleston replied that he used 'direct or bounced' flash 'early in my career,' but later concluded that it’s 'only occasionally' necessary.

Huntsville, Alabama, 1971 is an image of a man seated on a bed in an empty room, recalling Edward Hopper’s paintings. Though most of this interior is naturally lit, bounce flash illuminates the ceiling and brings the image to life."

From http://www.artou.de/magazine/bericht-egglestonwilliam3.html:

"I tried to approach Graceland simply as the home, really the place, of the king of rock n'roll. My son, Winston, was my light man on some of those pictures. I'd leave the shutter open and paint the scene with light. It's really the only way to make it look right. Certainly better than using any kind of flash."

The second quote obviously implies that he must have used a tripod. (Which reminds me of his famous shot of the kitchen in "mysterious" light that according to legend was also "painted with light" - while he was out in some bar.)

Hello All,

I just wanted to thanks everyone for the compliments on the book and confirm that For Now is available from http://www.twinpalms.com/?p=recently_released&bookID=4. First editions also available!

Thanks Again!
Matt Suhre
Twin Palms Publishers

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