Thursday, October 9, 2014
To Wes, Ponte Vedra Beach
The group of pictures I had brought were everything from work prints to finished work. I have never concentrated on one area of photography, probably to my detriment, but love trying every part of the discipline. Wes led us into the rec room, the workshop was in the early Spring at a summer camp, and, there on the ping pong table were all of my prints. Still he never critiqued them, just suggested people look at them.
That night we had an even better evening, good food, good laughs and great wine. Still no critique. Yikes. The next day was the last and we were all scheduled to leave by 2:00. At 1:00 Wes asked me to take a walk with him. We went around a corner and there was a barn in a field with a boat on a trailer around which the snow had blown. He asked if I saw anything and I said the the boat looked as if it was at full speed through the snow. He then said that he had looked for two days to find an example to show me and the boat was it. He said that I spotted it in a minute. Then he said that I should use my sense of humor in my photography and walked away. Done. Over. That was my critique. I spent a month trying to make funny pictures before it dawned on me that he meant use my quick wit and stop trying to be Edward Weston, or Irving Penn, two of my heroes, and take what I saw in a flash. It changed my personal work entirely.
Wes had a wonderful print in his studio of a lifeguard's chair, taken with his rickety old 8x10 camera. I loved it and never was smart enough to buy one. Wes got melanoma and died in 2000. I still miss him. This picture that I took last week is the latest and closest attempt to recreate that print. It doesn't come close but it keeps Wes in my mind.