Everyday Objects in the Democratic Forest

everyday objects, new topographics, Demoratic Forest, Toronto,

St. Clair West, Toronto, 1983

Photographer Willliam Eggleston is known for legitimizing colour photography as art. His photos are a visual treat without clichés—no sunsets, no lighthouses. Instead, he has ordinary scenes and everyday objects—things that we mostly pass by without notice.

As Eudora Welty says in her introduction to Eggleston’s book The Democratic Forest (1989), one of his photographs might include “old tyres, Dr. Pepper machines, discarded air-conditioners, vending machines, empty and dirty Coca-Cola bottles, torn posters, power poles and power wires, street barricades, one-way signs, detour signs, No Parking signs, parking meters and palm trees crowding the same curb.”

Eggleston looks at the world in a democratic way; all things, even the most banal, are worth photographing. It’s a form of mindfulness—being aware and concentrating on the moment.

“I just wait until [my subject] appears, which is often where I happen to be. Might be something right across the street. Might be something on down the road. And I’m usually very pleased when I get the image back. It’s usually exactly what I saw. I don’t have any favorites. Every picture is equal but different.” – William Eggleston

When I’m in that zone, I take time to observe everything around me. I find it relaxing and meditative. And it can lead to photos of brushes and brooms!

Photo tip: Try taking photos just where you happen to be. In the coffee shop, in your backyard, in the parking lot. You don’t need to go to Mt. Everest to get good photos.

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