Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
I think there is a disjunct between Weston's view of himself as an intuitive photographer and the reality of how he worked. For example, he spent days working on a toilet bowl image using numerous exposures & prints - even trying cropping - before he was satisfied with one. This is a very methodical photographer, not a seize the moment Cartier-Bresson. Over 30 numbered prints of peppers indicates a perfectionist.
A great deal in this discussion lies in the concept of "Methodical". To me someone who is "methodical" is a step-by-step planner; someone who sets a particular procedure and follows it inflexibly. "Perfectionism" does not automatically follow. It is entirely possible that an intensely "methodical" type is easily satisfied with sub-standard results (no, I'm not going to elaborate on what those are here); as long as the plan is adamantly followed, the task has been completed successfully.

Charis Wilson speaks of Weston's tenacity, more than methods. When he was "empassioned" (If that is not a word in the English language, it should be), he would place a LOT of effort - joyfully - in transferring that fascination / passion to a finished work.

Cartier-Bresson worked differently, but anyone using an 8" x 10" view camera would not have the dexterity afforded by the hand-held 35mm. Charis Wilson does comment of Weston's delight in knowing his equipment so thoroughly... another quote, from her article:

"He was never more pleased with his picture-making than when he could set up his camera in the "right" place, and have no need to move or adjust the tripod or change the focal length of the lens. He also took great pride in the speed and efficiency with which he focused, took a light reading, decided on exposure, set the shutter, inserted a film holder, and pulled the slide. He was especially delighted is someone equipped with a small camera and a bagful of gadgets proved to be slower than he was at setting up and making a picture."

This doesn't match the image of a plodding, thoughtful, every-step-must-be-perfect type at all. In fact, given the neccessities involved in the use of the 8" x 10", his methods might just have been close to the idea of capturing "The Decisive Moment".

Weston speaks about "Purism":

"Developing and printing should be a reasoned carrying out of the original conception. I much prefer to make a negative from which I can make a straight, "uncontrolled" print, but this is not always possible."

"On rare occasions, I have even removed a tiny but disturbing highlight on a landscape. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I can avoid such troubles when I make my exposure. If I can't on the 100th time, and if it can't be removed from the negative without destroying photographic quality, then I take it out.
As to the subject of trimming, I admit I am a "Purist". I can't recall a single print from over a thousand negatives made last year which I trimmed to change my original seeing. Obviously, this is an important part of seeing your finished print on the ground glass. (However, it must be understood that if I saw a subject I wanted that would not fit the 8x10 size of my ground glass, I would photograph it, and trim.)"