William Eggleston's The Outlands: Superior Photographic Outtakes


The last time William Eggleston was featured on this blog was almost 10 years ago as an introduction into Eggleston's impact on color photography, and photography in general. Recently, a series of new books on Eggleston's early color photographs was published which gathers some of the outtakes from his works. This is William Eggleston's Outlands.

The Outlands follow in the footsteps of Chromes and the Democratic Forest earlier edited and published by Steidl. These publications are unique in that they heavily involve the children of Eggleston who appear as editors in these works.

The Origins of the Eggleston's Outlands

After the work on the definitive issue on The Democratic Forest, Steidl decided to look at Eggleston's photographs from 1969 to 1974. This was meant to be definitive review of early work. possibly mostly from the Chromes, but many have never been printed, despite their high quality content.

Due to many factors, this was a publication that was more than 5 years in the making, but the results speak for themselves.

The Origin of The Outlands Name

The term "Outlands" refer to the photo outtakes that never made it into Eggleston's earlier publications. At the same time, the title refers to the outskirts of Memphis where Eggleston took many of these photographs. In particular, the name was taken from one image which shows "The Outlands" on a sign placed in the front lawn of a suburban house. 

This image, along with the general location and theme of the entire work, contributed to the publication's title.

The Content of the Outlands

When the editors started on the Outlands project, it was assumed that many of the photographs would be taken from the recently published "Chromes" photobook, as well as from Eggleston's familiar works such as "The Democratic Forest". However, towards the end of the curation, the editors counted more than 400 plates included in this 3-volume series, many of them never before published, but all of them of excellent photographic content.

Aside from the street photography content, The Outlands also contain familial work. During this time, Eggleston took photos of his family who were with him during his photo taking process, and so the Outlands also represent a sort of family album of William Eggleston's time in Memphis.

The Outlands is the last look into Eggleston's five year work with color transparency film while he was in Tennessee, and provides a glimpse into an era and place that can no longer be seen in today's digital and social media hungry world. Just like Chromes and the Democratic Forest, it allows viewers a glimpse of the not-often seen, while not necessarily being voyeuristic.

The next series in the making will take a look at William Eggleston's black and white photographs. This is highly anticipated because Eggleston was made popular for his deep color work, but his early monochromatic photographs already show his signature street photography style even without the color. 

While we wait for those monochrome images, check out the video below from Steidl on the creation of the amazing Outlands series:

While you're here, check out the first post on William Eggleston's color photography.

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