Andre Cantelmo Photography
Adams and Weston
In the early 1970's I began my romance with photography. Those years were filled with first steps and miss-steps. Even though I had my Dad, and other friends who were photographers to look to for guidance, I began to learn about the masters of this art. Ansel Adams and Edward Weston were my favorites. Two fascinating men, both individuals with very different approaches to the work they did.
Ansel and Edward met sometime in 1928 at a dinner of a mutual friend. The story is that Ansel was asked to play the piano that evening. They both brought photographs with them to show and talk about. When the evening was over neither one of them was very impressed with the photographs of the other. As the next few years passed they came to admire each other’s work. Even though Weston was older than Adams and their work so different, they became lifelong friends. In the late 1930's they hiked into Yosemite together. What a field trip that must have been. Both men cultivated a strong sense of humor, and joked with each other frequently, over adult beverages. Weston photographed Adams in Carmel, Ca. in 1943.
Ansel's darkroom was orderly and efficient; Edward's was a stark contrast. They frequently exchanged information about the latest in film, filters, chemicals, and paper. Both men carried around lots of equipment, both used heavy view cameras with sturdy tripods. Clearly, best of friends each had their own path and vision. They respected and admired each other very much. Ed Weston passed away in 1958 from Parkinson's disease. Ansel thought of Weston as an inspiration and one of the greatest photographers of our time.
Ansel was good friends with Ed Land, founder of the Polaroid Corporation. Adams used Polaroid film and clearly loved it. He was a man that was not reluctant to use new technology. It was the photograph that mattered. His mind was a storehouse of information and very scientific, yet he remained the poet, the musician. I remember the first time I viewed an Adams print in person, it was humbling. I walked away amazed at what Adams had coaxed out of the film and chemistry. In those early years of my photographic work I as well as many other photographers sought to emulate Adam's work. I carried sadness with me for years after Adam's death in 1984.
I am 100% digital in my workflow these days. I am convinced that if alive, Adams would embrace the digital workflow. When working with a digital capture, I often think about the control offered with the software I use. How remarkable Ansel's wealth of knowledge about the chemical process produced those wonderful photographs. The time he spent in the dark, squeezing out every last tone and texture. If anything I appreciate him more these days than ever. Ed Weston, one cannot talk about American Photography without his name being mentioned. To think that these two men worked together, helped each other, and were best of friends is remarkable, and a great photographic heritage. They are both American treasures.
We live in an era when time moves very fast. It seems like each week something new is the hot thing to have. We enjoy remarkable special effects in the movies we watch, and the clarity of high definition is a treat to the eyes. Even as all this art/science speeds past our eyes, take time to enjoy and appreciate these masters of photography.