Edward Henry Weston is an American photographer who created his masterpieces in the 20-40s of the last century. Having achieved success in pictorialism, that is, art, which emphasizes in the photo those features that brought it closer to the painting and graphics of the era, he suddenly turned to art exactly the opposite and became the highest master of direct photography, the main principle of which s the image of what he saw in a realistic manner.
Beginning of Creativity
Edward Weston was born in 1886 in Highland Park, Illinois. When he was six years old, he received his first camera; it was a gift from his father. Already at an early age, he had the desire to become a photographer. The first serious photo tool in the hands of 16-year-old Edward was the camera Kodak Bulls-Eye # 2, with which he practiced in the parks of Chicago and on his aunt’s farm. The first works of Weston are marked by a soft focus typical for popular then pictorialism. But a few years later he abandoned this style and succeeded in creating highly detailed photographic images. In 1903 the first exhibition of Weston was held.
Three years later, he leaves San Francisco, devastated by a fire and earthquake, and begins working in California as a railroad topographer for San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City, while attending classes at the Illinois College of Photography. In 1908, when he returned to California, he was one of the founders of the Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles. The photographer married Flora Chandler in 1909. Already in 1910 and 1911, his first two sons were born; the third and fourth heirs were born respectively in 1916 and 1919. By 1911, he opened a photo studio in California. From the beginning of his family life to 1917, he published his own articles in the magazines American Photography, Photo Era and Photo-Miniature, where in September 1917 his article “Weston’s Methods” was published on the non-traditional approach to portrait photography, the practical part of which he honed in his portrait studio in Tropico.
Trip to Mexico
Weston also travels a lot around Mexico. In 1922, his friend Tina Modotti went to Mexico, where Weston’s work caused rave reviews. Confident of his strength, long dreamed of changing the lifestyle and work, Edward Weston moved to Mexico City and opened a photo studio there with Tina’s support. Life in a foreign country was not easy. There were not enough orders, but there was enough time for work, and Weston slowly assessed each object and every moment with the eye of the photographer.
Features of Photos
Following the canons established in the portrait photo, he used a softly drawing lens and concealing the details with lighting, seated customers in winning poses and retouched positives with a pencil and a brush. But indulgence to the tastes of customers was not to his taste. He more and more photographed for himself, developing new techniques of composition. He photographed pitchers and bottles of pumpkins, quaint clouds, faces of friends and naked Tina, sunbathing on the terrace under the rays of the southern sun.
Edward Weston was looking for shape and with the same ease found it in the brilliant smooth bends of the faience toilet, as in the majestic outlines of the Aztec pyramids. He opened an endless variety in the nature of the surface of the earth and buildings, in the outlines of handicrafts, in feelings that reflected on the faces of people, in the smoothness of the skin and the roughness of the stone. In order to convey the texture of the materials, he constantly improved in the technique of photography, until he learned to catch all the details and all the changes in tones.
Further Development of His Art
After acquaintance with Alfred Stiglitz, Paul Strand, Charles Schiller and Georgia O’Keefe, Weston moved away from pictorialism and in 1927 began photographing vegetables, fruits, shells, and nudity, carefully writing down his ideas and impressions in a diary that he published in part in 1928 under the name “From My Daybook.” In 1921, his exhibition was held in New York, and then another one was organized at Harvard Society of Contemporary Arts. Edward was also a founding member of the “Group f / 64” created in 1932.
The name of the group speaks for itself: photographers used the maximum aperture value and received a sharp image throughout the frame. The group disintegrated rather quickly; nevertheless, it had a significant impact on the further development of photo art. Edward Weston remained faithful to the ideals of the group for the rest of his life such as the use of purely photographic aesthetics, in particular, increased sharpness and sharpness of the image; real, not embellished image of reality.
In 1934, he refused to retouch in portraits, as a symbol of purity in photography. In 1935, Edward Weston created the Edward Weston Print of the Month Club, which offered photographs of ten dollars per copy. In 1937, he was awarded the Guggenheim scholarship.
After 5 years, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease first appeared and in 1948 the photographer takes the last pictures. Over the next two years, he shot about 1,400 negatives. Some of his most famous photographs of trees and stones were made at the Point Lobos Nature Reserve in California, not far from the place where he lived for many years.
Later he was engaged in printing the anniversary portfolio for the 50th anniversary of photographic activity.In 1956, Lou Stumen included in his film “The Naked Eye” some of the pictures of Weston and the footage he shot. Edward Weston died in 1958.
His legacy includes several thousand carefully selected, perfectly printed images that have influenced many photographers around the world. Photographed by Weston natural landscapes, forms, rocks due to the large-format camera and lighting are sensually accurate; his paintings are a kind of poetry.
Thin halftones and sculptural design forms thanks to Weston’s photos have become the standards by which many creative individuals sought their creative path. The creativity of the photographer, associated with the American and world avant-garde, has become one of the biggest phenomena in the art of the 20th century.