Daniel J Brophy
History of Photography
has recreated the matter-forms and forces of nature; he has made these
forms eloquent of the fundamental unity of the work. His work illuminates
man?s inner journey toward perfection of the spirit.?
–Ansel Adams, Date Unknown
Edward Weston (1886-1958) may seem like he was a confused man in
trying to find his photographic goal(s). Just like many other photographers,
This was success and recognition as a ?grand master? of twentieth century
He was born in Highland Park, Illinois, and thus he was an American
skipping out of his schooling. At the age of sixteen (1902), his father bought
buy a better 5x& camera with a tripod. Taking photographs interested and
obsessed him. He wrote, ?I needed no friends now. . .Sundays my camera
and I would take long car-rides into the country. . .?
In 1906, two things happened. First, a submission of his was printed
in the magazine Camera and Darkroom. This photograph was called simply
lied in everything that was unorthodox (astrology, the occult, nudism,
vegetarianism, etc.). Maybe he never was much of an orthodox type man or
He went back to Illinois for several months to attend the Illinois
girlfriend, a daughter of a wealthy land-owner that he?d make money for
1909 and to two sons soon afterwards. During this time, Weston also
became the founding member of the Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles.
1911: Began a portrait studio in Tropico, California. This studio would
published in magazines. One of these magazines was called American
Photographer. His third and fourth sons were born in 1916 and 1919.
Weston had always enjoyed photography as an art, but, in 1915, his
visit to the San Francisco Panama Pacific Exhibition began a series of events
that would lead him to a renouncement of pictorialism. At the exhibition, he
quality of the objects he photographed with the sharpest truthfulness and
exactitude?. Thus began a dissatisfaction with his own work.
In 1922, he traveled to Ohio and took photographs of the Armco Steel
pictorialism all together.
He often traveled to Mexico during the 1920s, and his photographs
included nudes. One of these nudes, named Tina Modotti, would turn into
photographs in Mexico. Some were published in the book Idols Behind Altars
by Anita Brenner. During this time, he also began to photograph seashells,
vegetables and nudes.
In 1929, his first New York exhibit occurred at the Alma Reed?s Delphic
His photographs were shown along with the likes of Walker Evans, Eugene
Atget, Charles Sheeler, Alfred Stieglitz, and many others.
In 1932, he became a Charter member, along with Ansel Adams, of
of this club was to ?secure maximum image sharpness of both foreground
In 1934, Weston vowed to make only unretouched portraits. He
strived to be as far away from pictorialism as he could. In 1935, he initiated
the Edward Weston Print of the Month Club. He offered photographs for ten
dollars each. In 1937, he was awarded the first Guggenheim fellowship.
photographs and the text of Charis Wilson his new wife (not the nude, Tina
Modotti). In 1941, Weston was commissioned by the Limited Editions Club
to illustrate a new edition of Walt Whitman?s Leaves of Grass.
year the Museum of Modern Art in New York City featured a retrospective of
his work; three hundred prints were on display.
To sort of sign-off from photographing, Weston went to his favorite
photographing spot at Point Lobos. There he would take his last
For the next ten years, he supervised his two sons in the printing of
Portfolio. He died in 1958 at his home in Carmel.
From his famous studies of the green pepper to his favorite spots at
Point Lobos, Weston was mainly concerned in photographing nature. That?s
why his photographs encompassed still-lifes, seashells, tree stumps, eroded
compilation of photographs of California sand dunes is considered by many
to be his finest work.
Many feel he brought ?regeneration? to photography, and maybe he
did. It seems, whether he liked it or not, that pictorialism never left him.
No matter how sharp and truthful his photographs became or were, they
seemed to always have a pictorial feel.
Maybe someday I?ll read through the daily journal he kept, called
Daybooks. It was published, most of it after his death. Maybe then I could
get a feel for what Point Lobos meant and what the shapes of the
vegetables, seashells, and the rolling dunes meant. Maybe I could
understand his obsession with female nudes and their shapes and his brief
period of industrial scenes.
The tale is told. We?ve seen the photographs, few among thousands.
We?ve seen the broad dimensions that encompassed his life. We?ve also
seen the journal, his daily ?pouring out?. It is indeed a true legacy, a legacy
that lives on through the sharp, up close-and personal photographs.
collect.com/bios/weston.html). Photo Collect. Layout and design by
Edward Weston: With an Essay by R.H. Cravens. (1988). 1997 Edition.
Aperture Foundation, Inc.
?Weston, Edward (1886-1958)?. (2000). Internet (http://www.orsillo
.com/photographers/edward.htm). Orsillo of Nottingham, New
?Weston, Edward: American, 1886-1958?. (1986). Internet (http://www.
from The Encyclopedia of Photography.