It’s time for another entry in our Masters of Photography Series. In this article series we look at the lives and work of some of the most influential photographers from the 20th century.
Today we’re looking at the American photographer, Edward Weston.
Weston was born in Illinois in 1886 and has been called one of the most “innovative and influential” American Photographers.
Weston’s journey in photography began on his 16th birthday when his father gave him his first camera, a Kodak Bull’s-Eye #2. After taking it with him on a Midwest vacation, Weston was hooked on the art of photography. He soon after purchased himself a more sophisticated 5 x 7 camera and started capturing images, particularly Chicago parks.
It wasn’t until 1908 that Weston decided he needed more formal photography training. He enrolled at the Illinois College of Photography as part of their 12-month course. Weston finished all the work for the course in a mere 6 months, but the school wouldn’t release his diploma unless he paid for the full twelve months. Weston refused and moved to California in the spring of ’06.
Weston is perhaps best known for his work with natural forms. Through the stunning use of lighting, Weston was able to create a series of nude studies that made the models look almost magical as if they had been drawn rather than photographed. But instead of making his subjects look less human, Weston’s otherworldly lighting was able to capture the human form in a very real way. From the extreme curve of a back to the straining muscles of a subject’s legs, Weston’s nude series rightly earned him praise, even today.
Another one of Weston’s best known collections is the series of images he captured of vegetables. After being inspired by the variety of kelp found on the beaches near Carmel, Weston began capturing close ups of different fruits and vegetables. But it is the collection of images of a group of peppers that is best-known. Pepper No. 30, in particular, is an incredible image. By using his iconic mastery of light, Weston was able to transform the Pepper into something spectacular without having to change anything about it physically.
Weston developed Parkinson’s disease in 1946. That same year his work was featured in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He spent the next 10 years overseeing the printing of many of his photographs by his sons into a variety of collections.
Edward Weston died his home in Wildcat Hill, California on January 1st,1958. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at Pebbly Beach at Point Lobos.