“If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no shortcuts in photography.” – Edward Weston
Who was Edward Weston?
American photographer, born March 24, 1886, in Highland Park, Illinois. At the age of 20, he published his first photography, changing at that time to California. Two years later, seeking to formally develop his knowledge, he returns to his city and attends the Illinois College of Photography in Effingham. He died on January 1, 1958, suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
What techniques did he use?
He had great ability with lighting and posture. He worked in the soft-focus pictorial style and gained international notoriety for his work with modern dance studies and High Key, a technique in which white light falls uniformly on all objects in a scene. From 1922 he renounced his Pictorialist style and went on to emphasise the abstract form and higher resolution of details. That same year he moved to New York where he met, among other important photographers, Alfred Stieglitz, a pioneer in the professional use of small portable cameras and the first photographer to have his works in the collection of important museums of Boston, New York, and Washington.
What inspired him?
It captured the essence and beauty of everyday objects. From 1923, when he opened a photographic studio in Mexico, he took a series of portraits and nudes, and when he returned to the United States three years later, he continued to create nudes, close-ups, natural forms, and landscapes, among other works. It has become popular with its series of nudes that look like vegetables, or vegetables that look nude. He also took several portraits of family members. I would like to shoot with an 8 × 10 camera, with an extremely small aperture, to provide the maximum depth of field.
What was the focus of his works?
The variety of aesthetic genres he has travelled throughout his life makes it difficult to define the artistic chain followed by Edward Weston. His first images captured were in the Chicago Parks and a family farm – his first contacts were with nature. He liked to experiment, to look for abstract motives, observation angles, different lighting conditions and curvilinear forms. He is known for his photos that resemble sculptures worthy of note in his celebrated abstract series: eggplants, pumpkins, peppers, peppers, or any other things that would support the supper ritual.
My choice to research about Edward Weston has to do with my pathway, which is Product Design, both his work and my course are all about shape. Every picture taken by him gives me an enormous inspiration to sketch new projects and ideas. Furthermore, I just find fantastic how he used his creativity to capture everyday objects unusually with brilliant lighting techniques. So, I am completely sure that his pieces will keep inspiring me throughout my course and future job.
Here’s a video of his grandson, Kim, doing a tour guide around the photographer’s home. Watch and you’ll hear the secrets and unbelievable stories behind Weston’s iconic photographs.