A Helping of Gravy: A Democratic Way of Looking

Food, Drink, and Pop Culture in Southern Photography

“I HAD THIS NOTION of what I called a democratic way of looking around, that nothing was more or less important.” That’s how Memphis native William Eggleston, the color photography pioneer, describes his approach to capturing his surroundings. Eggleston’s primary-hued world of grocery-store parking lots, drive-in restaurants, and gas-station signs inspired this assemblage of photographs from the Pop Culture South.

Popular culture is defined and disseminated through images. When most effective, pop culture images are essentialist, distilling complex webs of people and places and ideas into simple and direct photographs. The food and drink images that follow tell us something about twelve Southern states and one Southern precinct. They broadcast values, realities, and aspirations. Many of these photos are roadside glimpses, and for good reason. Mass-market goods get delivered on roadways. Along those routes, billboards and storefronts compete for consumer dollars. Join SFA as we travel the highways and byways of the Pop Culture South.

(Click to enlarge photographs.)

sherry's alabama

arkansas florida

florida georgia photos

louisiana mississippi


north carolina south carolina photo

tennessee texas

virginia west virginia