The photographs made by Edward Weston (1886–1958) are selected for detailed analysis because this American photographer changed a traditional approach to viewing familiar natural and artificial objects. Weston’s remarkable aesthetics is grounded in representing ordinary objects and their parts as accentuated with the help of lighting and composition to make them change their initial meaning to the artistic one. In order to manipulate his images, Weston made black-and-white photographs with the help of a large-format camera, used specific lighting, and accentuated details, texture, and shapes (“Edward Weston”). Thus, Weston applied the techniques typical of a modernist style in his works. More attention should be paid to the analysis of Weston’s photographs and the comparison of their style to my photographs.
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In the 1920s, Weston focused on depicting shells using a unique approach to presenting and interpreting their shape. In Shell (1927), the photographer takes a bold and high-contrast black-and-white image to accentuate the texture of a shell (“Edward Weston”). The background is deep and black to provide the frame for the shell with its emphasized gloss. Looking at the photograph, viewers pay attention to the shape and texture of the shell, and this image supports a series of Weston’s works that were discussed as representing phallic symbols and conveying erotic meanings. It is possible to agree that this photograph makes the audience interpret a familiar object from an alternative perspective, referring to one’s fantasy as it is rather difficult to recognize a shell in this photograph.
Two other photographs by Weston, Cabbage Leaf and Cabbage were made in the early part of the 1930s. The key techniques used by Weston are the same as it is in Shell (“Edward Weston”). The photographer continued to create high-contrast images where the major accent was on highlighted parts and the use of shades to accentuate the shape of cabbage and a cabbage leaf. Weston used light to make depicted objects bold and colored with reference to different shades of black presented against a deep dark background. As a result, the texture of natural cabbage was presented similarly to fabric and lace. Therefore, depicted cabbages are perceived as pieces of art or sculptures that require attention and provoke some melancholy and aesthetic satisfaction.
One of my photographs seems to imitate the style of Weston and his approach to manipulating light. The object in my black-and-white photograph looks like a kind of tubes, which texture is accentuated with the help of light, as it is in Weston’s photographs. As a result, a viewer cannot recognize the material of the object at first sight but becomes focused on its shape and the overall impression. I have learned this approach to presenting abstract things from Weston’s photographs. The use of contrasts in this photograph is similar to Weston’s technique in Cabbage Leaf (1931). However, in contrast to Weston’s photographs, the background in my work is not deeply black, but it is blurred. Thus, this technique accentuates softness of the image in comparison to boldness in Weston’s photographs. The overall mood is rather melancholic, and my photograph can mostly be associated with Weston’s Cabbage Leaf among the discussed works.
It is possible to conclude that Edward Weston was unique in representing his idea regarding abstract things through using real and well-known objects. He accentuated the beauty and subtle meanings of these objects applying black-and-white colors and light. I also chose to focus on black-and-white photography as most appropriate to emphasize some details of depicted objects while drawing viewers’ attention to them. Therefore, Weston’s works still remain influential sources of inspiration for young artists and photographers.
“Edward Weston.” Artnet, 2018, Web.