The Classic Style of William Eggleston

William Eggleston (Portrait by Maude Schuyler Clay)

This is a portrait of William Eggleston – one of my favorite photographers.  It was shot by his cousin Maude Schuyler Clay.  Raised in Mississippi and now living in Memphis, Eggleston is one of the most celebrated modern artists, and his work hangs in major museums all over the world.  But his clothing style is very traditional and a rejection of all that is trendy and hip.  He opts instead to dress like a gentleman.  In this portrait, he is wearing a tweed jacket with a faint camel windowpane pattern and 3/2 roll over a gray wool crew neck sweater (probably a Shetland knit) and a blue candy stripe oxford cloth button down.  Eggleston is the epitome of a natty dresser!  I believe he is holding a Leica M4 camera – the same model used by Henri Cartier Bresson.  A pair of smart tortoise shell glasses complete his timeless look.

Note:  Camera experts tell me Eggleston’s Leica appears to be an M3, a slightly earlier model.

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4 thoughts on “The Classic Style of William Eggleston

  1. He’s not holding an M4. It’s an early M3 from around 1955. We camera nerds can tell by the shape of the rewind knob (M4 has an angled rewind crank) & the shape of the frameline preview lever & strap lug. You’re correct that he’s heavily influenced by Cartier-Bresson (another photographer from a wealthy family) as the M3 + what appears to be a collapsible 5cm/2 Summicron (same time period as the camera) was his favorite combo.

    • Thanks for sharing your expertise on this! I am a Leica guy – shoot with an M6 TTL and a 50 mm Summicron, but I’m impressed that you can distinguish between the M3 and the M4. I’ll take the correction glady!

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