At the time when photography was new to me William Eggleston was a name which cropped up a lot, being recommended or included in the books I read and enjoyed. His photography was an early inspiration and gave me a sense of what it could be and how I wish my photographs to look. Being an influence with both back + white and colour photography, he easily gave the basis as to how iconic documentary photography can be.
Currently at the National Portrait gallery are 100 of his photographs ranging through out his career and techniques. On entry to the exhibit you are welcomed by his early black and white shots, lighting is a important and re-occurring feature, high contrast with a range of subjects are featured. A few portraits caught my eye straight away due to there tone, mood and curation with other of his photographs, they are incredibly effecting and sets the tone for the rest of the exhibit. In the first back room there is also a cabinet showing smaller test shots which are equally beautiful as his full size photographs. Above this table is a series of polaroids. Even through the element of colour and quality control has been removed from Eggleston, they are very reminiscent of his style. The lighting, slight sepia tones and subjects fit perfectly with the larger more controlled environments he has captured. They are just a continuation of this eye and style. Showing his clear purest talent as a portrait photographer.
Through out the exhibit there is a clear colour continuity, from the sepia reds, deep navy and sunburnt ochres, defining the time period, photographer and mood. There is a clear sense that you are being transported to a particular time, one that I feel is trying to be re-envisioned today (rather badly in my opinion). I felt a strong connection of the photographs included in this almost portrait retrospective of Eggleston and felt aware of what he was trying to portray and communicate, for a non photography/ Eggleston enthusiast these are shots that can also be appreciated at the simplest form, a beautiful portrait, you can not deny that they are anything but captivating.
Here are a selection of photographs shown in the exhbit: