History of Photography: Edward Weston, Essay Example

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Essay

Edward Weston was born on March 24, 1886 in Highland Park, Illinois. Weston grew up in Chicago where, at the age of 16, he began to photograph the parks of the city with a Bull’s Eye #2 camera given to him by his father. In 1906, Weston achieved his first photograph publication in “Camera and Darkroom.” This success led him to California, where he struggled for two years before returning to east to attend the Illinois College of Photography in Effingham, Ill. After just six months he completed the school’s 12-month course and returned to California, this time finding work as a retoucher at the George Steckel Portrait Studio. In 1909, Weston married Flora Chandler. The couple had four children, all boys. (Weston)

Weston opened his own photography studio in Tropico, California in 1911. His second studio was in Mexico City, where he moved in 1923 with his apprentice and lover, Tina Modotti. (Weston) After only three years, Weston again returned to California in 1926 and began the work he would come to be best remembered for. In 1936, Weston became the first photographer to receive a Guttenheim Fellowship for experimental work. (Weston) Weston spent the following two years with his future wife, Charis Wilson, photographing the Western and Southwestern United States. Parkinson’s disease began to take over Weston’s body in 1946 and by 1948 Edward Weston had shot his last photograph. Over a period of ten years, Weston’s sons printed series of his prints under his supervision. Weston passed away on January 1, 1958 at his home, Wildcat Hill, in Carmel, California. (Weston)

Weston worked with several different cameras during his lifetime. These included an 8 × 10 Seneca folding-bed view camera using a Graf Variable, Wollensak Verito or Rapid Rectilinear lens; an 8 × 10 Universal view camera with either a triple convertible Turner Reich or a 19″ Protar; a 4 × 5 view camera, type unknown; and a 3¼ × 4¼ Graflex with a ƒ/4.5 Tessar lens. (Wikipedia) According to notations Weston made about his exposures, the film he used would be rated equivalent to 16 on today’s ISO scale. He printed on several types of paper, including standard silver gelatin paper, platinum and palladium paper, and chloro-bromide papers. Weston always made contact prints and when he wanted something larger than negative size, used an enlarger. (Wikipedia)

As a photographer, Weston demonstrated outstanding abilities with lighting and posing. His beginning success was gained working in soft-focus, pictorial style, a style he left behind after a photography session at an ARMCO steel plant in Middleton, Ohio. (Weston) Regarding his new style, Weston wrote, “The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh.” (Weston) He must have had this in mind in 1926 when he began his photography work of natural forms, close ups, and nudes.

It is Weston’s work from this era of his life, 1926 and on, that fascinates me; the reason I have chosen to imitate his works for this project. I have never photographed nude photos and I think it will be a unique challenge for me. The style of his work is, “shot people like object, shot object like people.” I find it very interesting. The challenge will be in bringing out all the many natural lines contained in the human form. For successful photos, I will need to use skill in posing and lighting, as well as with proper background. In The Daybooks, Weston’s personal journals began in 1915 and chronicling his life and photography into the 1930s, he wrote, “”I am stimulated to work with the nude body, because of the infinite combinations of lines which are present with every move.” (Weston) It is certainly an impossible task to set out to chronicle all the possible of combinations of natural lines, but it is an exciting task, too, since it is one that a lifetime could be spent on. should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh.”

Bibliography

Weston, Cole. Edward Weston Biography. 2005. 3 May 2012 <http://www.edward-weston.com/edward_weston_biography.htm>.

Wikipedia. Edward Weston. 24 April 2012. 3 May 2012 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Weston#Cameras_and_techniques>.

Watts, Jennifer A. (ed.). Edward Weston : A Legacy. London : Merrell, 2003.

Weston, Paulette. Laughing Eyes: a Book of Letters Between Edward and Cole Weston 1923–1946. Carmel: Carmel Publishing Co., 1999.

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