Eggleston is a true picture making original and one of the early pioneers in the use of color film in the making of fine art pictures. His 1976 MOMA exhibition of the pictures in the WEG book created quite a stir - consternation, befuddlement, and outright hatred of the exhibition and his pictures. I suspect that MOMA's then curator, John Szarkowski, knew full well that he was casting a hornet's nest into the world of fine art.
That written, in addition to Eggleston's pictures, the book contains an wonderful introduction by Szarkowski. His introduction is not only insightful, re: Eggleston's pictures, it is also an interesting look, re: art and the medium of photography itself, into the mind of the most influential photography curator of the 20th century - some might say of all time.
Although I would highly recommend the book as an essential read/look, one does not need to purchase it in order to read Szarkowski's introduction - you can do so here.
When writing about some of the emerging picture makers - Shore, Meyerowitz, Levitt, and the like - who were working in color, Szarkowski wrote about what is now considered to be the Snapshot Aesthetic:
... these pictures are not photographs of color, any more than they are photographs of shapes, textures, objects, symbols, or events, but rather photographs of experience, as it has been ordered and clarified within the structures imposed by the camera ... [I]t could be said - it doubtless has been said - that such pictures often bear a clear resemblance to the Kodachrome slides of the ubiquitous amateur next door. It seems to me that this is true ... it should not be surprising if the best photography of today is related in iconography and technique to the contemporary standard of vernacular camera work, which is in fact often rich and surprising. The difference between the two is a matter of intelligence, imagination, intensity, precision, and coherence.
IMO, those 5 words - intelligence, imagination, intensity, precision, and coherence - describe the essential tools of a good picture maker. Anyone who aspires to elevate their work above and beyond servile camera club platitudes, picture making wise, would be well served by getting by the urge to acquire gear and concentrate on acquiring an understanding of and the application of those 5 tools.
Featured Comment: Peter Nilsson wrote: "I've been trying to take inspiration from Eggleston's ability to make great pictures while drunk. Not sure it's really working out. Cheers, hic...
my response: Bottoms up.