Photo by Christian Patterson, @ tinyvices.com
Forrest City, Arkansas, May, 2007
When my spring semester teaching ended last year, I took a trip down to Austin, TX with my friend David. We stopped in various places on our way down, one of which was Forrest City, Arkansas. I think we stopped for a bathroom break or to buy lunch or something, but we ended up walking around town and taking some photos. I liked the town quite a bit--it reminded me of Pulaski. I posted most of the shots from Forrest City during the summer, but I didn't post the above shot because the colors are off. The sky is too blue and blocky, and the pink of the mural is off, too. I suppose if I knew how to use photoshop I could make it look somewhat closer to how it appeared to my eyes that day, but I still haven't gotten around to using photoshop. I just take photos (making use of whatever limited technical knowledge I have) and hope they turn out well.
I had owned my Nikon for about a month when I took the shot. Before that, I was using a Canon A1 and shooting all black and white. Prior to August, 2006, I had barely even held a camera. I've always had an interest in art, but I just hadn't given much thought to photography. In any case, I took a photo class in the fall of 2006, bought a cheap Minolta (which was stolen, then replaced by the Canon), and quickly became hooked. Photography provided a nice way to be both outside and inside of things. I'm not a particularly social person, certainly not a joiner of groups, but I love the interactions I have when I'm out photographing. I like being a stranger in a strange place, making unexpected connections. I'm veering off topic here, something I'm prone to do...I suppose I intended this paragraph to explain how I became aware of Eggleston's photos, then later--through doing google searches for Eggleston--stumbled across some of Christian Patterson's work.
By the time I took the trip with David, I was aware of Patterson...I knew that he helped develop the Eggleston website and that he had lived in Memphis, but I had never seen his photo of the pink wall in Forrest City. I had no idea he'd ever been there. I didn't find his photo of the wall until a few months ago, when I came across a link to the tiny vices site, probably through a link from Patterson's now defunct blog. Patterson's shot is admittedly better than mine...also probably a good argument for the use of film over digital, particularly medium format film over a relatively cheap (not cheap to me) digital SLR like my D50. Of course, the 2 shots are different and there are factors other than the cameras involved...time of day and year, the angle of the shots, etc. Nevertheless, his sky is much better, and I like the way he got the curb and part of the adjoining building in his shot. He was also blessed to have the owner's Cadillac parked beside the building (how do I know it was the owner's Cadillac? He pulled up while I was photographing, told me it was his store, and asked my I what I was doing). In my photo the front of the Cadillac is barely visible just in front of the arrow. In any case, when I found the Patterson shot I thought it cool that someone whose work I admire had noticed something I also noticed.