Does William Eggleston Love Women? “You’re Damn Right!”

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The father of color photography on life, love, growing up Southern, and standing up to Cartier-Bresson.

BY JOHN HEILPERN

William Eggleston, the near-mythic southern gentleman and father of color photography, who is placed in the pantheon of the greats alongside Walker Evans and Robert Frank, greeted me with a courtly little bow at his favorite hangout in New York City, El Quijote restaurant, the joint adjoining the Chelsea Hotel.

It would be a liquid lunch for the 76-year-old Mr. Eggleston, who pointed out, in his wry, gracious way, that if he had felt like lunch he would have surely had one of El Quijote’s small, signature lobsters. He began with champagne mixed with vodka, in a tall glass.

“You look well,” I said.

“Thank you,” he said in his light southern accent. “A compliment is always nice.”

He still lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was raised a son of privilege on a 12,000-acre plantation. “Ever used a gun?” I asked. “Certainly,” he replied, “but not seriously.”
 

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