William Eggleston’s vision of women

American photographer William Eggleston was born in Memphis in 1939. As a southern, he captured as no one the life there in the 60’s and 70’s, full of plantations and suburban driveways.  He is well known for his use of color,  vivid and expressive, and because of his portraits, especially of women.

He was one of the first photographs who used the color, when it was considered vulgar and garish. Nowadays, being color photography mainstream, and his works being sold for 35,000 pounds, we can enjoy it in different retrospectives and exhibitions.

Everything was a portrait for him. He took pictures of apparently unimportant details, but that gave great significance and beauty to the final shot. For instance, one of his more famous portraits is this one, where he photographed his girlfriend.


The focus is on her face, first buttons and on the camera. The characteristic light he achieves is his distinctive stamp. The expression of his face, the way he lays in the grass, floating, and the rich colors makes it one of his more remarkable photos.

In this other picture of his girlfriend the focus is centered on her face and hair, and she wears a similar flowered dress, very popular these days. She is beautiful, but also young.  Her youth contrasts with the decadent background around her.


He often photographed women who were important for him, so we can see them in the roles that they represented for him. Girlfriend, cousins, mother. Also, how he made them feel. In some photographs we can see his shadow, making clear that he was there, make us notice of his connections with the models, who were important in his live.


They always have this aura of inner thought, but also weakness. When we look at these photos the time seems to stop. They appear to be worried, to have a troubled mind, which contrasts with the bright colors. Eggleston finds in the faces of these women both toughness and vulnerability. He gives them colorful surroundings, but a languished expression. He wants us to wonder how their lives are, to make us consider if they’re fine, due to the expression of their faces, not happy, half sad.

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Andrea Llovera


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