“Edward Weston: One Hundred Twenty-Five Photographs” – book review by David Tatnall
Yet, the strength and beauty of Edward’s photographs, elegantly composed on a large traditional view camera and black & white film, still shine proudly. No matter the era or the technology, Edward’s photographs are clear evidence of what is creatively possible when one combines a great passion for life with a camera.
This impressive large book was published in 2011 to mark the 125th anniversary of Edward Weston’s birth (1886-1958).
It is a truly wonderful book, weighing in at 4 kilograms and measuring 36 x 36 cm. With Weston’s signature embossed on the slipcase and limited to 2000 copies, it is a book for collectors.
The essay by Steve Crist summarizes Weston’s life in a very readable form.
Photographs in the book are reproduced one per page (at the size of the original photograph 20 x 25 cm) with the title and a quote from Weston on the accompanying page. The design of the book is simple and strong.
All the very well known images are there: Pepper Number 30 (1930); the sensuous 1936 Nude and Dunes, Oceano; Kelp at China Cove, Point Lobos (1940). There are also some lesser known images too, including; 1930 portrait of Frida Kahlo and Ansel Adams holding a Contax 35mm camera (1936).
In 2012, the publisher produced a physically smaller edition of the book (24 x 24 cm) for USD 50. The content and layout are the same, however it is printed to a lower standard and is without the slipcase and cloth cover and hence the huge price difference.
There have been many books of Edward Weston’s photographs published over the years. I have eleven in my library. This new book is by far the best not only in quality and reproduction standard but also by the thoughtful and knowledgeable selection of the 125 photographs.
The selection of photographs was made from the Centre For Creative Photography’s Edward Weston Archive of more than 2,000 prints and 10,000 negatives. Weston’s photographs have been collected by many galleries in Australia, including The National Gallery of Australia, The National Gallery of Victoria and The Art Gallery of NSW.
I remember looking at the Edward Weston: Fifty Years book published in 1973 and being told to look at the photographs upside down – a strange request, but I did. I was surprised to see the photographs made sense that way too. Composing photographs upside down and back to front on the ground glass of the view camera changes the way the photographer sees the world. A well-composed large format photograph looks different than that of another camera type. A strong composition can be viewed upside down and still makes sense. Edward Weston’s photographs are fine examples of strength in composition.
I find looking at the work of other photographers both inspiring and useful. Although recently much can be seen online I still find the high quality photography book is the best way other than at an exhibition of seeing photographs. I use books from my collection in workshops to show examples of other photographers work. I’m glad books such as this new Weston book are being produced. With the use of new scanning technology the quality of the reproduced photograph is getting better all the time.
Edward Weston’s subjects and compositions are extraordinarily good. This is a wonderful book.
Edward Weston: One Hundred Twenty-Five Photographs
Text by Steve Crist.
Published by AMMO Books 2011.
USD 250.00 (limited edition)
David Tatnall. July 2013