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Four Generations of Weston


A very good friend of mine called me a couple of weeks ago and mentioned that I may want to come to Sacramento for the opening of a new exhibit at the Viewpoint Photography Art Center in downtown Sacramento, California. Viewpoint is the only non-profit arts organization in the Sacramento region dedicated to advancing the art of photography through its services, education and gallery exhibits.

The second my friend mentioned that it was an exhibit featuring the work of four generations of photographers in the Weston family, Edward, Brett, Kim and Zach, I knew I had to go to this opening.

The exhibit opened on April 6 and will continue until June 4.

Something missing

I have written about this in several articles in the past, but it is worth repeating here:

When I started making photographs, it was patently clear to me that somehow I was not able to achieve the image quality I was trying to produce.

I started out with an inexpensive Brownie box camera and I attributed the lack of quality to my lack of skill, combined with the use of a very rudimentary tool.

As my photographic skills improved and I was finally able to save enough money to buy a good 35 mm SLR, I thought all would be well. It wasn’t….

No matter how hard I tried, and no matter how much my skills improved, there was something missing…


Enter Edward Weston.

One day I went to a photography exhibit at the Modern Art Museum in Mexico City. I had been involved in photography since I was 9, and I believe I was 17 at the time. The exhibit was a one man show of Edward Weston’s work. I had never heard of Edward Weston before that day.

The impact the exhibit had on me is something that I still cannot quite explain with words. Seeing Edward Weston’s work changed me for life; and this is not an exaggeration.

I had never heard anything about Large Format and I had never seen a view camera. Needless to say, I had never experienced the impact of magnificent contact prints from 8×10 inch negatives. I was completely blown away by the technical quality of the images and the exquisite, incredibly well made prints. I was even more blown away by the vision and the artistic execution of each and every image I saw that day.

I had to learn a lot more about Edward Weston and I had to learn how to work in Large Format. The quality I was looking for in my images was clearly achievable, but it would take years of practice and hard work to get there.

Kim Weston: Cat in Hat

Kim Weston: Cat in Hat

The adventure

After processing what I saw at that exhibit, and after returning multiple times to see it again (my recollection is that I returned 12 times), I launched into a decades long adventure in Large Format photography. I started with a 4×5 camera. I learned how to use a view camera, how to load and process sheet film, the Zone System and all the other basics on my own. After some years of practice, I was lucky to be able to participate in workshops with the likes of Ansel Adams and John Sexton.

Eventually, I moved on to color work with an 8×10 inch camera.

I continued to work with Large Format view cameras with film, until digital imaging quality improved to the point that film was no longer an attractive proposition for me. I worked with a 4×5 digital scanning back for a period of time, until I finally transitioned to Medium Format digital work with Medium Format technical cameras and Medium Format DSLRs.

Zach Weston: Hands

Zach Weston: Hands

The next generations

One of my most coveted prints is an image by Brett Weston.

I have seen quite a number of prints by Kim Weston and I very much like and appreciate his work.

The exhibit was the first time I saw Zach’s work. He certainly shows an amazing level of maturity and skill for someone his age: No wonder, he was basically born into photography and was constantly surrounded by exquisite work while observing some of the masters of the medium at work.

Zach Weston: Under the Wharf

Zach Weston: Under the Wharf


Four Generations of Weston: Black and White is a beautiful exhibit and well worth seeing for those that are interested in this genre of photography and happen to be in the Sacramento area.

For me, it was inspirational given my first encounter with Edward Weston’s work and later on with Brett, Cole and Kim’s work. Personally, the opening was also a great opportunity for me to reconnect with Kim and his wife Gina (lovely people!), as well as to spend time with Zach for the first time.

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