Your thoughts on Eggleston's one photo per subject

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DREW WILEY

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It wouldn't make much sense to interject something analogous to "previsualization" when it comes to Egglestons's methodology. He didn't do his own printing. His iconic earlier work was printed on dye transfer, a medium which allowed considerable flexibility in interpretation; and he obviously found certain technicians he could communicate with to end up with prints coordinate with his expectations. Nowadays, some of those same images have been reprinted large via inkjet and look like oversized fish out of the water - out of character, with the original charm gone. I don't follow his current work. He's something of a sacred cow in art circles, considered a pioneer of sorts, especially in his handling of the burbs, and there are web interviews where he explains himself. I've already seen enough of his work to know which aspects I like, and which I don't; but none of that influences my own style. I hate the burbs anyway.
 

logan2z

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Nowadays, some of those same images have been reprinted large via inkjet and look like oversized fish out of the water - out of character, with the original charm gone.

I couldn't agree more. His current exhibition prints look comically large, especially for the subject matter.
 

DREW WILEY

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Yup. Big prints are the fad now, even when they're totally out of character with the original work. Ironcially, when that particular Bland Burbia genre came out in the early 70's, most of its practitioners printed very small. The prophetess of that movement, Sally Euclaire, described those prints as "tiny little jewels". Eggleston himself was a snapshooter, but a number of others made 8x10 contact prints. I personally saw quite a representation of the early works of many of those folks before there was much of a following for it. Only Eggleston himself had gained traction at that point. But what is so ironic, is that the prints were small because those guys were starving artist types back then, and had neither the finances nor equipment to print larger. "Little jewels" had nothing to do with it. Most were horrible printmakers; a few eventually got good at it. But once they got grants and so forth, the color printing got farmed out to commercial labs.

Other than some medium format work like the Graceland project, Eggleston's 35mm shots just don't have the detail in them to warrant printing big. They work precisely because of their charm as small "artifacts" of seemingly familiar scenes being uncannily highlighted. But things run in cycles, and once everyone gets weary of billboard-sized photographic decor, the next museum fad will probably be Minox contact prints.
 
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warden

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For those interested here are how big his 35mm slides were being printed back in 2018. I can't remember the gallery but it was in NYC. There were also smaller dye transfers on display.

44769265195_371ac135a1_c.jpg
 

logan2z

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Yup. Big prints are the fad now
A fad that I really dislike. Big prints force me to step way back to view them and that makes me feel very detached from the work.

Here is an installation photo from The Grain of the Present exhibition at Pier 24 in San Francisco from a few years ago. It's a bit difficult to tell how large these prints are because there's no great frame of reference, but the space is huge and the ceilings are very high, so that will hopefully give you some idea. Print sizes like this are very off putting, especially for things like street photography. There were some Alec Soth portraits that were even larger.

I'm hoping this fad fades soon..

grainofthepresent-73.jpg
 

DREW WILEY

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Ghastly! But I gotta give Joel Meyerowitz credit - he's currently having some of his early 35mm street work reprinted via dye transfer in Germany. Some of his 8x10 camera work looks good rather large; but that's to be expected. Probably most of his Ektacolor 74 prints from the 70's and 80's have faded by now. Hopefully, the majority of inkjet images in this world will prove to be far less permanent than marketing claims too.
 

DREW WILEY

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Sterile. The framing is boring too - generic-looking really, with the mat margins all identical in the first case, none at all in the second, just DIY-looking cheap flush mounting. Surprised the walls aren't Government Green, ala 50's. I suspect a lot of the art scene is running on fumes; needs some fresh air instead. And predictably, on that link, inkjet prints deceptively mis-advertised as "pigment prints".

I've never heard of McCracken before, but think I have a cat buried in one of his shoebox sculptures in the back yard, along with some catnip. At least those sculptures have utility, even though they aren't worth looking at. It's all been done before. Time to move on, to the next repeat prank.
 
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warden

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"there is only one image that suits the subject." You may as well stop reading at this point, because that is totally wrong and just one person's opinion. Just ignore what artists and photographers say about their work and just look at it. The really good photographers and artists take as many attempts as needed to get what they're after.

I looked at Eggleston's work online, and it's not him, it's the medium and our relationship to that medium. Photographing anything and producing a printed or online image will give you something that is fundamentally different than viewing the scene. It's cropped, and shot through a camera lens on film or on a digital sensor, not viewed w/ our two eyes. Your cat could take Eggleston's photos and they would look exactly the same.

This has been done to death by people like Duchamp who exhibited toilets and rusty old bicycle wheels in art galleries back in the Ancient Days and called them Readymades. His point was: simply placing an art object in it's proper setting makes it into art, it's not the object itself. We'll view that toilet sitting on a pedestal in a museum very differently than the one we have to use in their restroom. Eggleston's photos are simply 2 dimensional Readymades. Didn't we used to call those grab shots?
The same could be said of your post, which is totally wrong and just one person's opinion. I really don't see how Eggleston's work amounts to Readymades that your cat could take, but hey we all bring something to art when we look at it.

Eggleston ≠ Duchamp
 
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DREW WILEY

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I need to clean up some of my cat's "art" right now. I don't let any of the cats anywhere near my camera gear or darkroom. Besides, they don't have an opposable thumb practical for pushing the shutter button. The neighborhood raccoon does; but he's even messier.

More seriously, I'm not against big color prints per se. I make em. But my objective is to create a print which is not only intriguing from a relative distance, but that has a lot of subtle detail that rewards a viewer moving close in, discovering new things time and again, year after year. Being primarily a large format photographer helps in that respect, but is far from being the only relevant factor. Big just for big's sake is something else entirely. The size needs to suit the mood of the subject. So, in my opinion, I think Eggleston lost the fish off the hook when he went big. A mismatch. Just more inkjet atop the real estate, now that it's so darn easy to do. A mere commodity. Disappointing, especially with rote generic framing. At those kinds of prices, one would expect something tailored.
 
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bunktheory65

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I make less.

What Eggleston understood is that while everyday life is a continuous succession of ephemeral moments, not every ephemeral moment of everyday life is a photograph. For those, you have to learn to look, and anticipate, be ready in a second or sometimes wait - for when people and things relate to each other a certain way, when light is a certain way and falls on the subject a certain way, when colours pop a certain way and relate to each other a certain way, etc. That's when "the image suits the subject".

And often you have to accept that you've missed it.

To a point, but the missed connection is that the ideal photo will have the most possible connections with the most people possible, or its of no value. Hence the ability to spend 3 hours to stage a scene can truly give someone that power of capturing a scene.

Those who dont have that ability, well it works or it dont.
 

removed account4

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He's been hailed for his images of mundane, everyday life and circumstances. He has commented that it is too difficult to choose among several images of a single subject, and that there is only one image that suits the subject.

I think this is a valid perspective for large format, where there is considerably more effort put into getting the image, but smaller formats, 35mm and especially digital, seem to encourage multiple views/exposures of the same subject.

Of course, we are all free to make images as we choose, be it one or many for each subject that catches our eye. Have you found yourself making less exposures over time, or more?

shooting one or 2 frames is a great practice in seeing and gathering light into a camera. practice makes perfect and all that, and his work is a feast for the eyes.
 

Don Heisz

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If you're after the "Decisive Moment", it helps if you only take one picture of it (doesn't seem too decisive otherwise).

Anyway, if you want to think about Eggleston and the idea of the Readymade, you maybe should say it was actually John Szarkowski who hung Eggleston on the wall and called him artist. I'm not sure who'd be talking about Eggleston if Szarkowski didn't exist.
 

Don Heisz

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he was the director of photography at MOMA in NYC, right ? a lot of people wouldn't be talked about if Szarkowski didn't exist.

Eggleston in particular, though. There was a real unwillingness to accept colour photography - not to mention an unwillingness to accept the content of the images. Szarkowski really saw something in Eggleston no one else did, and pushed for others to see it, as well.
 

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In eggleston's landmark show, were they all dye transfers like his later work ? while he might have had a mundane snapshot aesthetic his was in complete control through the dye transfer process what his prints were looking like. I have an uncle who used to make dye transfer prints, it took 6 hours to set up to make 1 print ...
I kind of like mundane work, in 10 or 30 of even 5. years even the mundane has historical value, and its not pretentious ...

==. added later.. ==
https://www.imdb.com/video/vi1189937689?playlistId=nm1206729&ref_=vp_rv_ap_0
 
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He's been hailed for his images of mundane, everyday life and circumstances. He has commented that it is too difficult to choose among several images of a single subject, and that there is only one image that suits the subject.

I think this is a valid perspective for large format, where there is considerably more effort put into getting the image, but smaller formats, 35mm and especially digital, seem to encourage multiple views/exposures of the same subject.

Of course, we are all free to make images as we choose, be it one or many for each subject that catches our eye. Have you found yourself making less exposures over time, or more?
less, but far more selectively
 
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Horatio

Horatio

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I kind of like mundane work, in 10 or 30 of even 5. years even the mundane has historical value, and its not pretentious ...

Some of his images do stir memories for me. The Chevy Monte Carlo in particular.
 

warden

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the ideal photo will have the most possible connections with the most people possible, or its of no value.
No value? Really?

I'm happy with one connection with one person. And if the right handful of people like an image that I've made then I'm over the moon.
 

Don Heisz

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Photos can be interesting in some way and that is enough to give them value.

Many of Eggleston's photos seem like hyperrealist paintings. The colour adds to that. If you wonder about the meaning of what you're seeing, it can lead you to question the meaning of the thing or situation being shown. That is, maybe there is nothing you can call meaning, but it still persists and maybe you recognize something in it.
 

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Some of his images do stir memories for me. The Chevy Monte Carlo in particular.
I think the seemingly mundane isn't quite so mundane when you really look at it. I find this to be true in much of Eggleston's work.

I know !
his work is always about reality, about the world he lived/lives in and its lush with details that we all recognize and connect with, people and things we know but are still strangers to us. there is a movie about him on Netflix that looks pretty interesting. maybe I'll watch it tonight :smile:
 

Michel Hardy-Vallée

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I have sympathy for the "take just one shot" habit. It shouldn't be a dogma: if I have one dogma in life, it's not to be dogmatic...

Anyway, the point is that you should be confident enough to live with a single shot of what you thought was an interesting picture. Sometimes that's really all you're going to have, for reasons outside your will.

It's a nice trick to have in your bag: learn to get to the point. That's good as much for 35mm as it is for large format.
 
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