How to Take Photos Like William Eggleston

The American photographer William Eggleston has a personal discipline for only taking one photo of a subject. Not two! Why? Because he’d have trouble choosing which one was best! Since hearing this, I’ve adopted the same practice for the same reason as Eggleston. His work has also helped me recognise the beauty in the mundane, such as the ordinary moments and everyday scenes that mostly go unnoticed. If you didn’t know, Eggleston photos mostly depict mundane subjects, such as parking lots, gas stations, and supermarkets. They may look boring at first glance. However, his masterful use of colour and composition imbues them with a sense of beauty and significance. His work has inspired many photographers (including myself) to see the world differently, appreciating the beauty of everyday life. So, if you want to take photos like William Eggleston—this blog post is for you.

How to Take Photos Like William Eggleston
Figure 1

What Is William Eggleston Known For?

William Eggleston is renowned for his pioneering work in colour photography, particularly his depictions of everyday scenes in the American South. His photographs often capture mundane subjects—such as road signage, street scenes, and ordinary objects—in a way that elevates them to art. Bold colours, strong contrasts, nuanced lighting, and attention to detail characterise the work of Eggleston. Plus, he has a knack for finding beauty in the seemingly banal, transforming ordinary moments into compelling visual narratives (see Figure 1). By the way, you sometimes hear he was the first to shoot in colour, but Saul Leiter captured everyday scenes colourfully years before William Eggleston. Nonetheless, Eggleston’s practice has profoundly influenced the world of photography, challenging traditional notions of subject matter and paving the way for the acceptance of colour photography as a legitimate art form.

Take Mundane Photos Like William Eggleston: Focus on Everyday Scenes
Figure 2

What Type of Photography Does Eggleston Shoot?

His approach to picture-taking is often described as democratic in that he treats all subjects equally, regardless of their perceived importance or significance. His photos celebrate people, places and things that go unnoticed (see Figure 2). Yet, his use of colour and composition highlights their importance. Let’s explore how you can see the world differently and take photos like William Eggleston.

Key Points – How to Take Photos Like William Eggleston

To capture photos reminiscent of William Eggleston’s style—adopt the points below:

1. Focus on Everyday Scenes

Eggleston had a talent for finding beauty in the ordinary. So, look for mundane moments and ordinary subjects (see Figures 3 & 4) that may seem unremarkable at first glance but possess visual interest and emotional resonance when captured through your lens. Additionally, embrace the authenticity of everyday life by capturing scenes such as street corners, buildings, signs, and interiors. Additionally, pay attention to the small details that make each scene unique, from textures and patterns to colours and lighting.

Take Mundane Photos Like William Eggleston: Focus on Everyday Scenes
Figure 3
Figure 4

Furthermore, take photos that feature landscapes, interiors, and objects devoid of human presence. Why? Because human interactions are not always the central focus of Eggleston’s work. But if people do appear (see Figure 5), portray them candidly and unposed so they blend seamlessly into the scene.

Figure 5

2. Experiment with Colour

Eggleston’s use of colour is one of the defining features of his work. Therefore, embrace bold, vibrant hues that command attention and evoke emotion (See Figure 6 & 7). Seek out scenes with rich colour contrasts and striking combinations (e.g., the vivid red of a stop sign against a blue sky or the warm glow of streetlights illuminating a nighttime scene). Moreover, attend to how different colours interact in your compositions. Use them to enhance the mood and atmosphere of your photos. Additionally, don’t be afraid to push boundaries and explore unconventional colour palettes. Embrace the full spectrum of possibilities to create visually stunning images that resonate with viewers, much like Eggleston’s pioneering work in colour photography.

Figure 6
Take Mundane Photos Like William Eggleston: Experiment with Colour
Figure 7

3. Play with Composition

Eggleston often used unconventional compositions to create visually striking images. Hence, experiment with unconventional angles, perspectives, and framing techniques to create visually dynamic and compelling images like Eggleston’s photos (see Figures 8 & 9). Break free from traditional compositional rules. Seek out compositions that challenge the viewer’s perspective, drawing attention to unexpected details and creating a sense of intrigue. In addition, embrace asymmetry, leading lines, and negative space to add depth and visual interest to your photos.

These compositional techniques allow the viewer to explore the scene and discover new layers of meaning. Also, pay close attention to the placement of elements within the frame and use leading lines to guide the viewer’s eye through the image, creating a sense of movement and narrative flow. By playing with composition in this way, you can capture photos that evoke the spirit of Eggleston’s innovative approach to photography, transforming ordinary scenes into works of art.

Take Mundane Photos Like William Eggleston: Play with Composition
Figure 8
Figure 9

Step 4. Capture Atmosphere and Mood

Eggleston’s photographs often evoke a sense of atmosphere and mood. He sometimes used light to enhance the vibrancy of colours in his images. So, pay close attention to the interplay between light, colour, and subject matter in your scenes (see Figures 10 & 11). For example, experiment with different lighting conditions, from soft natural light to dramatic artificial sources, creating a mood that enhances the emotional impact of your photos. Furthermore, look for scenes that convey a sense of nostalgia, mystery, or quiet contemplation. Then, use composition and framing to draw viewers into the image’s narrative, enhancing their mood. By capturing the atmosphere this way, you can create photos that resonate with viewers on a deeper emotional level, much like Eggleston’s iconic work.

Take Mundane Photos Like William Eggleston: Capture Atmosphere and Mood
Figure 10
Figure 11

Step 5. Embrace Imperfection

Eggleston’s work has a raw, unfiltered quality. Therefore, allow yourself the freedom to capture scenes authentically without striving for perfection or adherence to technical conventions. To do so, 1) embrace spontaneity and welcome imperfections such as lens flare, grain, or blur as integral aspects of the visual narrative. 2) Focus on capturing the raw essence of everyday life, celebrating the beauty found in the unpolished and unfiltered world around you (see Figures 12 & 13). Furthermore, 3) embrace inherent flaws and quirks in your photos because they add character and authenticity, imbuing them with a sense of immediacy and honesty that resonates with viewers. Overall, embrace imperfection to capture photos resembling Eggleston’s imperfect approach to picture-taking.

Take Mundane Photos Like William Eggleston: Embrace Imperfection
Figure 12
Figure 13

Key Points – How to Take Photos Like William Eggleston

Follow these five key points to help you take photos like William Eggleston:

  1. Use vivid, saturated colours to make your photos visually striking.
  2. Focus on ordinary subjects and everyday moments, finding beauty in the mundane.
  3. Experiment with unique angles and framing to create compelling compositions.
  4. Capture the small, often overlooked details that add depth and interest to your photos.
  5. Embrace flaws or quirks; they can add authenticity and character to your images.

Summary

By focusing on everyday scenes, experimenting with composition and colour, and embracing imperfection, you can create photographs that evoke the spirit of William Eggleston’s work and capture the beauty of the mundane. Moreover, embrace simplicity and experiment with different techniques to create your unique style.

Photos That Capture the Beauty in the Mundane

Here are more examples of ordinary moments and everyday scenes I’ve captured reminiscent of William Eggleston.

P.S. You can view examples of Eggleston’s work on Artsy’s William Eggleston page.

Did you like this article titled: “How to Take Photos Like William Eggleston?” If so, please spread the word. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

My Instagram

@popesphotos
  • loneliness
-
#bnw 
#loneliness 
#minimal 
#bnwminimalism 
#bnwminimalismmag 
#minimalist 
#minimalism 
#bnwminimal 
#streetphotography 
#bnwstreetphotography
  • 'Great Value Rooms' Margate!
-
#margate #derelict #derelictplaces #derelictbuilding #abandoned #urbex #abandonedplaces #urbexphotography #lostplaces #urbexworld #abandonedphotography #urbanexplorer #forgottenplaces #urbanexploring #abandonedbuilding
  • The Diskery record shop, Birmingham (before the move).
-
Kodak Gold 200 + Ricoh FF-9.
-
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodakgold200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #35mmfilmphotography #ricohff9 #vinyl #vinylrecords #vinylrecord #recordshop #birmingham #highstreet
  • Two women looking at dead sheep at a county show!
-
#bcncollective
#myspc
#sdpcollective
#Spicollective
#documentaryphotography
#martinparr 
#streetphotography
#countyshow 
#magnumphotos 
#reportage 
#photojournalism
#photooftheday
#lensculture
  • Washington DC office worker on a red moped.
-
#streetmoment
#Spicollective
#sdpcollective
#street_macadam
#ig_streetclub
#minimal_streetphoto
#streetgallerymagazine
#moped 
#maydaidia
#bcncollective
#spgcaptures
#streetphotographybrazil
#streetshared
#sharingstreets
#streetrepeat
#streetleaks
#streetsacademy
#streetclassics
  • Canal boat lights
-
#abstractphotography #abstract #abstractart #photography #art #abstractphoto #contemporaryart #fineartphotography #minimal #streetphotography #abstractartist #experimentalphotography #photooftheday #artphotography #contemporaryphotography #minimalism #abstractphotoart #abstracts #fineart
  • Eggs £1.
-
Contax G2 + Fuji Superia 200
-
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #fujisuperia200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #contaxg2 #bcncollective #myspc #sdpcollective #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #eggs #easter
  • Jogger on beach
-
Contax G2 + Kodak Portra 160
-
#minimal #35mmfilm #kodakportra160 #contaxg2
  • Bowl of sweets.
-
Contax G2 + Fuji Superia 200
-
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #fujisuperia200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #contaxg2 #bcncollective #myspc #sdpcollective #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #sweets
  • Two Trainspotters | Sheffield Park
-
Contax G2 + Kodachrome 64
_
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodachrome #kodachrome64 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #contaxg2 #bcncollective #myspc #sdpcollective #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #trainspotters #sheffieldpark #trainstation
  • Women praying the World won't end!
-
Kodak Gold 200 + Ricoh FF-9.
-
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodakgold200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #35mmfilmphotography #ricohff9 #bcncollective
#eyeshotmag #myspc #photoobserve
#sdpcollective #spgcaptures #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #endoftheworld #fortheearth
  • Vinyl Lovers!
-
Kodak Gold 200 + Ricoh FF-9.
-
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodakgold200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #35mmfilmphotography #ricohff9 #vinyl #vinylrecords #vinylrecord #recordshop #bcncollective
#eyeshotmag #myspc #photoobserve
#sdpcollective #spgcaptures #Spicollective #documentaryphotography
loneliness
-
#bnw 
#loneliness 
#minimal 
#bnwminimalism 
#bnwminimalismmag 
#minimalist 
#minimalism 
#bnwminimal 
#streetphotography 
#bnwstreetphotography
loneliness - #bnw #loneliness #minimal #bnwminimalism #bnwminimalismmag #minimalist #minimalism #bnwminimal #streetphotography #bnwstreetphotography
7 months ago
View on Instagram |
1/12
'Great Value Rooms' Margate!
-
#margate #derelict #derelictplaces #derelictbuilding #abandoned #urbex #abandonedplaces #urbexphotography #lostplaces #urbexworld #abandonedphotography #urbanexplorer #forgottenplaces #urbanexploring #abandonedbuilding
'Great Value Rooms' Margate! - #margate #derelict #derelictplaces #derelictbuilding #abandoned #urbex #abandonedplaces #urbexphotography #lostplaces #urbexworld #abandonedphotography #urbanexplorer #forgottenplaces #urbanexploring #abandonedbuilding
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
2/12
The Diskery record shop, Birmingham (before the move).
-
Kodak Gold 200 + Ricoh FF-9.
-
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodakgold200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #35mmfilmphotography #ricohff9 #vinyl #vinylrecords #vinylrecord #recordshop #birmingham #highstreet
The Diskery record shop, Birmingham (before the move). - Kodak Gold 200 + Ricoh FF-9. - #ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodakgold200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #35mmfilmphotography #ricohff9 #vinyl #vinylrecords #vinylrecord #recordshop #birmingham #highstreet
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
3/12
Two women looking at dead sheep at a county show!
-
#bcncollective
#myspc
#sdpcollective
#Spicollective
#documentaryphotography
#martinparr 
#streetphotography
#countyshow 
#magnumphotos 
#reportage 
#photojournalism
#photooftheday
#lensculture
Two women looking at dead sheep at a county show! - #bcncollective #myspc #sdpcollective #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #martinparr #streetphotography #countyshow #magnumphotos #reportage #photojournalism #photooftheday #lensculture
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
4/12
Washington DC office worker on a red moped.
-
#streetmoment
#Spicollective
#sdpcollective
#street_macadam
#ig_streetclub
#minimal_streetphoto
#streetgallerymagazine
#moped 
#maydaidia
#bcncollective
#spgcaptures
#streetphotographybrazil
#streetshared
#sharingstreets
#streetrepeat
#streetleaks
#streetsacademy
#streetclassics
Washington DC office worker on a red moped. - #streetmoment #Spicollective #sdpcollective #street_macadam #ig_streetclub #minimal_streetphoto #streetgallerymagazine #moped #maydaidia #bcncollective #spgcaptures #streetphotographybrazil #streetshared #sharingstreets #streetrepeat #streetleaks #streetsacademy #streetclassics
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
5/12
Canal boat lights
-
#abstractphotography #abstract #abstractart #photography #art #abstractphoto #contemporaryart #fineartphotography #minimal #streetphotography #abstractartist #experimentalphotography #photooftheday #artphotography #contemporaryphotography #minimalism #abstractphotoart #abstracts #fineart
Canal boat lights - #abstractphotography #abstract #abstractart #photography #art #abstractphoto #contemporaryart #fineartphotography #minimal #streetphotography #abstractartist #experimentalphotography #photooftheday #artphotography #contemporaryphotography #minimalism #abstractphotoart #abstracts #fineart
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
6/12
Eggs £1.
-
Contax G2 + Fuji Superia 200
-
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #fujisuperia200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #contaxg2 #bcncollective #myspc #sdpcollective #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #eggs #easter
Eggs £1. - Contax G2 + Fuji Superia 200 - #ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #fujisuperia200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #contaxg2 #bcncollective #myspc #sdpcollective #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #eggs #easter
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
7/12
Jogger on beach
-
Contax G2 + Kodak Portra 160
-
#minimal #35mmfilm #kodakportra160 #contaxg2
Jogger on beach - Contax G2 + Kodak Portra 160 - #minimal #35mmfilm #kodakportra160 #contaxg2
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
8/12
Bowl of sweets.
-
Contax G2 + Fuji Superia 200
-
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #fujisuperia200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #contaxg2 #bcncollective #myspc #sdpcollective #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #sweets
Bowl of sweets. - Contax G2 + Fuji Superia 200 - #ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #fujisuperia200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #contaxg2 #bcncollective #myspc #sdpcollective #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #sweets
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
9/12
Two Trainspotters | Sheffield Park
-
Contax G2 + Kodachrome 64
_
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodachrome #kodachrome64 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #contaxg2 #bcncollective #myspc #sdpcollective #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #trainspotters #sheffieldpark #trainstation
Two Trainspotters | Sheffield Park - Contax G2 + Kodachrome 64 _ #ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodachrome #kodachrome64 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #contaxg2 #bcncollective #myspc #sdpcollective #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #trainspotters #sheffieldpark #trainstation
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
10/12
Women praying the World won't end!
-
Kodak Gold 200 + Ricoh FF-9.
-
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodakgold200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #35mmfilmphotography #ricohff9 #bcncollective
#eyeshotmag #myspc #photoobserve
#sdpcollective #spgcaptures #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #endoftheworld #fortheearth
Women praying the World won't end! - Kodak Gold 200 + Ricoh FF-9. - #ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodakgold200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #35mmfilmphotography #ricohff9 #bcncollective #eyeshotmag #myspc #photoobserve #sdpcollective #spgcaptures #Spicollective #documentaryphotography #endoftheworld #fortheearth
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
11/12
Vinyl Lovers!
-
Kodak Gold 200 + Ricoh FF-9.
-
#ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodakgold200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #35mmfilmphotography #ricohff9 #vinyl #vinylrecords #vinylrecord #recordshop #bcncollective
#eyeshotmag #myspc #photoobserve
#sdpcollective #spgcaptures #Spicollective #documentaryphotography
Vinyl Lovers! - Kodak Gold 200 + Ricoh FF-9. - #ishootfilm #35mmphotography #kodakfilm #kodakgold200 #35mmfilm #35mm #istillshootfilm #filmisnotdead #filmisnotdeadil #filmphotography #35mmfilmphotography #ricohff9 #vinyl #vinylrecords #vinylrecord #recordshop #bcncollective #eyeshotmag #myspc #photoobserve #sdpcollective #spgcaptures #Spicollective #documentaryphotography
1 year ago
View on Instagram |
12/12