Which photographers or influences inspired your interest in photography?
Edward And Brett Weston In Mexico
Pioneer abstract and landscape photographer Brett Weston was the son of Edward Weston, who many say was one of the greatest photographers to ever live. However, what most people do not know is that of the subjects both men photographed, Brett Weston did many of them first.
Chandler, Brett Weston’s older brother, wrote to Brett at home in California, while Chandler visited Edward Weston in Mexico. Chandler told Brett Weston they were having a glorious adventure south of the border. Under his dad’s lax or non-existent supervision, Chandler Weston was drinking and playing with guns and having a wild time. Brett Weston kept pressing his father to have his turn in Mexico. Finally after Brett Weston had a few run-ins with the police in California, Edward Weston gave in and the boys traded places in 1925 when Brett was 14 years old.
While in Mexico, Brett Weston made his first photographs that were more than snapshots. He printed with his dad and whiled away the days. Family photographs show the Westons relaxing with Diego Rivera and other artists. After 15 months in Mexico, Brett Weston returned to the U.S. and made his first abstract photograph, “Drive Shaft, Locomotive.”
Edward Weston Is Known For Some Subjects Brett Weston Photographed First
“People look at Edward’s photographs and say, ‘Oh Edward did the locomotive, so Brett did the locomotive,’” said Jon Burris, Director of the Brett Weston Archive. “But the fact is that Brett made his in 1927, and Edward did not make his until 1941. Sonya Noskowiak, who was an assistant of Edward’s—and who became a member of the Group f.64 (with Edward Weston)—made a similar image in 1937. But Brett was the first—and he made his when he was just 16 years old.”
Some of Edward Weston’s most acclaimed photographs of his last wife, model Charis Wilson, who passed on in November 2009 at age 95, were made in the Oceano sand dunes. Edward Weston’s photographs of sand dunes are “so prominent in the history of Twentieth Century photography, that most people believe he made them first and that Brett followed,” Burris said. “But that’s not the case. Brett began to photograph the dunes in 1932—two years before his father.”
Brett Weston also photographed a series of four surf scenes in 1939, looking down from the cliffs above Baker Beach in San Francisco. “Edward had photographed similar scenes a year or so earlier on the coast, north of San Francisco,” Scott Nichols said while talking to Black and White Magazine about his collection, the world’s largest of Brett Weston’s prints and portfolios. “Then Ansel Adams had done his famous surf series in 1940,” Scott Nichols said. “Brett’s predates Ansel’s by about a year.”
Brett Weston Influenced Edward Weston Who Inspired Philip Hyde
Many people see my father landscape photographer Philip Hyde’s cactus photographs and images of trees in Glen Canyon and suggest he was influenced by Brett Weston. This may be, but Dad saw little of Brett Weston’s work before he made his own cactus images and river trips through Glen Canyon with David Brower and the Sierra Club. Dad did make photographs that exhibit Edward Weston’s influence because he and his California School of Fine Arts classmates photographed with Edward Weston on Point Lobos on a number of occasions in 1948 and 1949. Dad and his classmates also visited Edward Weston at his home on Wildcat Hill in Carmel, California where they may have seen some Brett Weston photographs. Future blog posts will detail visits to Wildcat Hill and how Dad and several others from the class, camped in tents on Edward Weston’s lawn. Edward Weston reviewed student prints and showed his own. The print viewings often led to lively discussions. For more on Edward Weston see the blog post, “Edward Weston’s Landscape Philosophy Part 1.”
Edward Weston is said to have impacted all of photography. However, with the knowledge that Brett Weston preceded his father to various locations and subject matter, it has become accepted that not only did father influence son, but son also influenced father. Edward Weston on several occasions suggested as much. Brett Weston, through his father, Edward Weston, indirectly impacted Philip Hyde’s photography, and made an even larger contribution to the entire medium than is commonly known. For the story on how Brett Weston impacted Philip Hyde and his travels by selling him his Chevy Pickup see the blog post, “Covered Wagon Journal 1.”
Which photographers or influences inspired your interest in photography? Please share your thoughts in comments…