Happy Birthday — After Edward Weston

Maybe it was the 10 years of psychotherapy, but I spend a lot of time thinking, “how did I get here?”

I do that with photography too.

In a large part, I have Edward Weston to thank. The image of him living simply, being solely dedicated to his work, and photographing whatever was of interest to him were some of my earliest motivations for the path I took. Not only with the kind of photographs I wanted to make and the equipment I wanted to make them with, but to the lifestyle (and the kind of work I wasn’t willing to make). I don’t have to imagine that it was very similar for many other photographers as well.

Even if it goes without noticing, the urge to photograph so many of the iconic places, we have, as large format landscape photographers, photographed in the past 50 years has been a direct result of the journeys Edward Weston had made in 1937. The first photographer to receive a Guggenheim fellowship, at the age of 49, he traveled over 16,000 miles throughout California (and the West) with his 8x10 camera, his partner Charis who he married in 1939, and usually also accompanied by his son Brett. Now, nearly 80 years later, those trips through California continue to inspire photographers to wander the desert, the coast roads, the High Sierra and its foothills, seeking out their own sense of discovery and the pulse of life itself.

I don’t know how many times I loaded the truck with enough food and 8x10 film and holders (and twice and much water) to live on for several days of wandering and photographing, but I always knew why I was doing it.

About this Photograph

This is a photograph from back in 2004 at Zabriskie Point, on one of those such trips. Most of my work from that time are still only available as 8x10 gelatin silver contact prints, but I am now drum scanning that older work so I can begin to make enlarged platinum/palladium prints in the new darkroom (more on that later).