Monday, July 1, 2013

Remembering Brett Weston

John Sexton, one of the greatest traditional landscape photographers working today, has posted the first part of a series of videos about Brett Weston on his website. The video features John with photographers Randy Efros and Kim Weston (grandson of Edward Weston, son of Cole Weston, and nephew of Brett Weston) sitting around reminiscing about Brett. You can view the video here and while you are there, you might as well look around and take a look at John's work. He's a very fine photographer.

Brett Weston was a monumentally influential photographer for me. His images were pure photography in a way that not many people have ever achieved. And by that, I mean that his images only really existed to be those black-and-white images. That was their only context for him. His photographs were examples of how he saw the world and what he responded to as he existed and worked in the world. For example, a picture of a leaf was not really a picture of a leaf to him, it was an image of lights and darks, shapes and textures. It was a pure abstraction of the world, breaking it down into its parts and then arranging those parts into an image that resonated for him. Even his nudes were treated in the same way; they were about tones and shapes and composition, not about sexuality or even sensuality, thought he was personally very interested in women. Photographically to him, a mountain was no more significant or beautiful than a piece of melted plastic lying in the street. They were both raw ingredients for his visual imagination.

Brett was also a dedicated photographer who lived to photograph. He printed nearly every day of his life, early in the morning before sunrise, and after breakfast, he would go out and photograph. Photography was his life and nothing ever got in the way of that, and he continued this way nearly up until he died. His dad, Edward, was one of the seminal photographers of the 20th Century and in some respects Brett always worked in his dad's shadow. But for many late 20th Century West Coast landscape photographers, his work was probably the greater influence. His beautifully clear and coolly analytical images guided many photographers' work. And with his penchant for Porsche sport cars and dark sunglasses, he was cool, too. If you are not familiar with Brett Weston's images, take the time and look them up. He's worth it.