Part of our masters of photography series, we pay tribute to Brett Weston and his captivating White Sands images. There are believed to be a total of 50 of Brett Weston's White Sands portfolios in existence, some printed in 1949, others printed in 1975. The 1949 printing, comprised of 10 images, is scarce, as only 17 copies of this 10-image portfolio are believed to have been completed. The later printing in 1975 of the additional 33 portfolios, which comprised 12 images, included 9 of the original images as well as 3 later images. All 50 of the portfolio cases were manufactured at the time of the 1949 printing, and were used for both the 1949 and 1975 editions of the portfolios. The original 10-image portfolio is currently valued around $25,000 to $35,000. But there is no need to despair; Lodima Press reproduced 15 images of the White Sands portfolio, you can order the book directly from Lodima Press. Another book we can highly recommend is Brett Weston: Master Photographer
Brett Weston seemed destined from birth to become one of the greatest American photographers. Born in 1911 in Los Angeles, California, Weston was the second son of famous photographer Edward Weston. At the age of 14, his father removed him from school where they then relocated to Edward Weston’s photographic studio in Mexico. It was in Mexico where Weston began making photographs with a Graflex 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ Camera. He became his father’s apprentice and was introduced to painters like Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco, and photographers such as Tina Modotti. These artists introduced the young Weston to modern art forms, which unquestionably influenced his early sense of form and composition. Under the astonished eye of his father, Weston began his legendary technical precision, bold design and extreme abstractions of form. His father once observed that Weston was doing better work at the age 14 then he had done at the age of 30 years old. According to the curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Van Deren Coke, “Brett Weston was the child genius of American photography.
Throughout the decades of the 1950s and 1970s, Brett Weston's style changed sharply and was characterized by high contrast, abstract imagery. The subjects he chose were, for the most part, not unlike what interested him early in his career; plant leaves, knotted roots and tangled kelp along the beach. He concentrated mostly on close-ups and abstracted details, but his prints reflected a preference for high contrast that reduced his subjects to pure form.
Brett Weston’s lifetime devotion and total involvement with the medium created a body of work and a contribution to photography that transcends comparisons to his father and has few equals in contemporary photography.
Credits: The Brett Weston Family Archive, Sotheby's, Christies.