Edward Weston Essay

Submitted By jenniferloder
Words: 1006
Pages: 5

Edward Weston

Edward Weston was a 20th century, American photographer. He has been named “one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…” and “one of the masters of 20th century photography.” Weston was born on March 24th, 1886, and died on January 1st, 1958. He was married in 1939 to Charis Wilson whom which he had two children with: Brett Weston and Cole Weston. Weston also published a book named ‘Edward Weston, the form of the nude’.

When looking at Weston’s work; it is clear to see similar traits between each of his pieces, such as his tendency to only produce pictures in black and white effects. This particular effect used outlines the contours of the shapes he photographed and defined the textures and surfaces of each object. Even though Weston only used one effect for every photo he made each image very interesting and distinctive by using shadow and highlighting to his advantage giving objects that he photographed more detail and effect.

At first glance of one of his more famous pieces – the pepper (of which was printed in 1930) – the image seems to be some sort of consorted body shape, but when looked at closely it is clear to see that it is a pepper. The fact that the image is in black and white lets you to look past than the colour and look deeper into the form of the object. Weston used shadow and highlighting effects to complement this photo – which is a technique that was very common in his work – which bring out features of the shape that would not be noticed otherwise. The way the light is used in this image also benefits the effect of the piece as it shows the real texture of the pepper by showing the smoothness of the skin. The chosen background of this photo creates and even more in-depth effect to the picture as its is also very dark and adds to the shadow and highlighting, making a contrast in light and dark areas of the pepper. The actual pepper chosen sets a tone of the picture, because of the disfigurement of the object, it is not very recognizable as a pepper at first glance. The unusual shape makes the viewer have to personally analyze the image to fully understand the meaning and true content of the photograph. This analysis and overall effects Weston used to take the picture, play in the overall outcome of the photo.

Weston used different techniques which makes his photographs unique. He captured depth and contrast in his pictures. One technique he used to create these effects was by printing his photos by contact on matte platinum, palladium or gelatin silver paper. At the time, Weston made extensive use of soft focus lenses of which he had different types. Throughout his time, Weston stuck to one particular style when taking photographs – romantic diffused aesthetic – although in around 1922 dramatic changes were noticed in his portfolio as he abandoned his well-know, original style and shifted towards a more objective style of photography. From this point onwards he would use sharper lenses and print (still by contact) on smooth, glossy gelatin silver paper. One of Weston’s pieces which recognize this dramatic change in style is ‘Armco Steel, Ohio’ (photographed in 1922) which presents a very different technique and look from his previous work.
Weston was said to help bring photography out of the Victorian age. He was seen as a very modernistic artist, he wanted, he said, “to make the commonplace unusual” which relates to a lot of his work and fits his style and aim well. Looking at his work in the present day, it is clear to depict the tonal quality of his black and white prints which are displayed in the everyday objects - both natural and man-made - in which he captured. The way that Weston presented3 some of the objects makes them appear almost unreal, with multiple photos of often disfigured peppers, he made them