William Eggleston's The Democratic Forest: The Godfather of Color Photography is a Poet

November 17, 2016

By:Adam Lehrer


William Eggleston, portrait by Adam Lehrer

William Eggleston, portrait by Adam Lehrer

William Eggleston’s photographs didn’t immediately have an impact on me. When I started taking pictures regularly, making artwork and studying photography, I initially found myself captivated by fine art photographers like Larry Clark, Nan Goldin, Richard Kern, Nick Knight’s Skinhead book, and later Ryan McGinley, Wolfgang Tillmans and Dash Snow. These photographers offered me a visual portal into worlds that I was either curious about or desperately wanted to be a part of. Images of glamorous downtown artists, drug abuse, delinquent behavior and moments of anguish accented by expressions of ecstatic joy. These photographers’ work gave me a glimpse of a life that I wanted to live, and also provided me hope that with a camera (and a laptop) I could find my entry into their worlds, or at least my own version of their worlds. Eggleston’s work, on the other hand, isn’t as immediately provocative. His focus has always been on iconography of the mundane: street signs, middle American shops, and ceiling fans have always been his language. 

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