If you love B&W photography and don’t own a book containing Edward Weston’s work, there is a one-stop solution: buy Edward Weston, A Legacy. Everything about it is fantastic and I really cannot imagine anyone who loves classical black and white photography not loving this book. While it is not cheap (£60), it is definitely value for money. Unlike boutique books, or large badly printed ones, this book strikes an excellent balance. Well done to the publisher (Merrell) for that.
Edward Weston was father to Brett Weston, who is my favourite of the two. I find Brett’s work a little more mysterious and in some ways a natural extension of Edward’s own path. The son took his father’s work, and legacy, and continued to push photography forwards. This was no mean feat, when you consider the depth and breadth of incredible work produced by his father. A large proportion of that work is contained within this book, making it a real flagstone in one’s book collection.
Edward primarily worked with an 8″x10″ view camera and contact printed his negatives onto Azo paper. His prints were known for their jewel-like quality and, while a book is loses much of that perfection, this book carries the feel of Azo prints (rich, high levels of micro-contrast, rich blacks) remarkably well.
It’s a large book (30cm x 30cm x 3.3cm), with quite some heft to it. Thankfully it fits in my book case just fine.
While I haven’t counted the images, the book covers a very wide range of Edward’s work and groups them together by location. There is also a good quantity of explanatory text, but this is nicely separated from the plates, so you can enjoy the visual feast without distraction.
Print quality is excellent, with good contrast and image depth. Finish is satin or soft gloss. Resolution is more than good enough and only bettered by fairly uncommon books, or those with enormous price tags.
In terms of content, the book contains a wide range of subject matter, including portraits, landscape, still life and industrial. Those with only a passing awareness of Edward Weston’s work will probably be surprised by the diversity.
I will own and enjoy this book for decades to come. It’s not the kind of book you ever get rid of….