William Eggleston was recently profiled in the New York Times, which is how I discovered him. He is more interesting to me than his work, which is probably the root cause of every great creator’s uncomfortable relationship with the public. “The supreme colourist of American photography” is how he’s described in a separate piece I’m excerpting:

When we are seated in a dark corner of the bar, I begin by asking Eggleston where he comes from, exactly. He stares straight ahead, as if deep in thought, then, after about 30 seconds, answers softly, ‘Nowhere,’ except the word comes out as three syllables – ‘No-whe-ahhh’ – each one enunciated in a soft southern lilt. It is not an auspicious start, but it is followed by a sly smile, then another equally long pause, after which he elaborates in what I will soon come to recognise as a typically vague manner. ‘I was born on the Mississippi delta. Cotton country. Married a gal from Mississippi, too, but I’ve been living in or around Memphis since about 1960.’

Eggleston is the slowest and most softly spoken person I have ever met, and the silence while he considers a question is so deep and long that I find myself wondering if he has simply chosen to ignore my fumbling attempts at elucidation. His thoughts, when they emerge into speech, are expressed succinctly and in oddly illuminating phrases that, like his work, are both simple and complex. I imagine Samuel Beckett and himself would have got on famously. ‘A picture is what it is,’ he says when I ask him why he no longer wishes to talk about individual photographs, ‘and I’ve never noticed that it helps to talk about them, or answer specific questions about them, much less volunteer information in words. It wouldn’t make any sense to explain them. Kind of diminishes them. People always want to know when something was taken, where it was taken, and, God knows, why it was taken. It gets really ridiculous. I mean, they’re right there, whatever they are.’