A Weston perspective

It's half way between birthdays for Edward Weston. He would be 129 years old today and his work, dedication and exploration continue to inspire. The combined quote below was written by Weston; the first half he penned in 1930 and the second was published in 1943.

"Each medium of expression imposes its own limitations on the artist — limitations inherent in the tools, materials, or processes he employs. In the older art forms these natural confines are so well established they are taken for granted. We select music or dancing, sculpture or writing because we feel that within the frame of that particular medium we can best express whatever it is we have to say. The photographer must work out his problem, restricted by the size of his camera, the focal length of his lens, the certain grade of dry plate or film, and the printing process he is using: within these limitations enough can be said, more than has been so far—for photography is young." 

The seamlessness of Weston's thoughts reflect the purity of his intention toward photography, and the wholeness of his work as an artist. Even with the avalanch of photographs that now bombard on a daily basis, I find inspiration in Weston's commentary about photography being young. Taking into account the context of traditional practice and the fact photography has been overrun by digital processes, I feel the practice of 'seeing' in the way that Weston often spoke about it still has much to offer. At the time of photography's modernist era Australia was so governed by its White Australia Policy, the absence of landscape works suggest it became to difficult to genuinely engage with our interior (literally and metaphorically). By and large photographers withdrew from the inland and focussed their attention on our coastal centres.

Now that we are more clearly looking at our past, perhaps there is space too to re-see the Australian landscape, not as something to be feared, tamed or sold as a tourist destination. Perhaps there is an opportunity to articulate a sense of harmony from an external and interior point of view, an occupation that drove the likes of Weston, (not to mention Adams, Stand and others). They sought more than to simply document. They were looking for the thing that couldn't be easily photographed. They wanted to capture presence.