This image has always raised goose bumps for me, I have never heard anything other than Charis's mention of it in her book. Have always felt it was simply a record of the discovery. Technically I guess it is just fine, but the subject matter to this day rattles me.
"And what does anyone know of my past years work?
1300 negatives - 21,000 miles of searching. No, I have not done "faces and postures," except one dead man (wish I could have found more) and many dead animals; but I have done ruins and wreckage by the square mile and square inch, and some satires."
Edward Weston - 1938
That "wish I could have found more" is an odd one. I wonder what he meant by that, and what kind of photographic journey he was on there (or would have like to have been on).
Originally Posted by JBrunner
It's hard to make a judgement without knowing more about his attitude to the person, the dead body, and his reasons for taking the photo. The image itself I find sad, (any death, alone like that, is very sad, but also he's young..), it's also rather beautiful. It seems as if he just fell asleep. I can't help thinking of the documentary I saw a few days ago on Sally Mann which included her most recent work, lots of images. Much more difficult images than this. Yet acceptable to me (I think) because of the care and consideration of her approach, her clear reasons for doing what she was doing. And the way her body of work transcends any individual photograph because it makes us think about the difficult issues of death and what death means.
I don't know Weston's reasons for taking this - and his wish for more bodies - so I feel I definately have to reserve judgement about his motives and intentions.
Apparently adams so disliked Mortensen that he conspired to exclude Mortensen's archives from being accepted at any academic repository, fortunately failing for the sake of photographic history
Originally Posted by Bill Hahn
I think the "wish I could have found more" was more a comment on how EW felt at that time about the work that he was doing. He often commented on if a negative was "important" or not, in regard to the body of photographic work (his, and others)
Originally Posted by Stargazer
I rather prefer Weston's photos of live women to dead men. From what I understand, he did do something other than just photographing the ladies.
My personal impression of Weston was that he was a human being first and a photographer second. The pursuit of his photography was the means by which he explored and also expressed his humanness in the world about him.
Weston had a "life view" not well aligned with the traditional "Christian majority" of the segment of the world that he inhabited. I mean this not in a derogatory sense. What I mean by this is that Weston was well established in the belief that all things are interconnected and the individual "things" merely representative "particles" of a much larger all inclusive "whole". I would take it that from this orientation that to Weston a dead man in the desert was as much a part of this realm as a nude, a pepper, shell, or a mexican woman grinding maize.
On the basis of composition, this photograph with it's diagonal orientation of the subject creates a sense of energy and tension in it's own right. A noteworthy thing, I think...considering Weston's view of life.