Kim Weston is an anachronism. A 21st-century photographer, he works in a 20th-century medium to preserve his heritage, while introducing a fresh perspective to the legacy of Weston imagery.
A contemporary photographer living in the “new-media age” of digital technology, Kim chooses to work, sequestered in his dark room developing film, as did his father and his grandfather before him.
Working with an 8x10 Arca-Swiss camera or with his Mamiya 67, a medium-format camera he inherited from his father, Kim Weston fosters the lineage of perhaps the most prominent family in the history of photography.
He is the son of photographer Cole Weston, nephew of photographer Brett Weston, and grandson of Edward Weston, the patriarch of photography whose “passionate attention to the forms and rhythms of nature” left a collection of inimitable tracery.
“Photography,” Kim says, “runs deep in my family.”
Kim is a Weston by all rights; by birth, appearance, talent and that singular sort of magic that makes photographic images like none other. Yet, although he views the world with an acuity honed by heritage, Kim’s own vision distinguishes his work.
Kim recognizes Edward as a recorder of people and places; Cole as a color photographer, Brett as an abstractor, and himself as a storyteller. The settings for his stories are the landscape of the female nude, revealed through the chiaroscuro of shadows and lights, in the milieu of his vision. The viewer has never met the model, and yet we come to know and understand her in the contexts of our own perspectives.
What speaks to the viewer is not simply what Kim sees, but how he views it - what it means and what matters, and what he is able to capture in that precise moment. He is inspired by the energy and beauty of the female form, by the play of light upon that which is both sacred and seductive.
“I love women, I am attracted to women, and I respect women,” says Kim. “My mother and, later, my wife have been the most important people in my life. Women have always fascinated me; they are so different from me, so exotic, so female. They are strong, beautiful, vulnerable, and painterly in who they are and what they represent.”
Kim has long been inspired in his photographic work by the painterly portrayal of subjects by artists who bring metaphor into their imagery. Among them he admires the expressive nature of Reed Farrington paintings, and the classic figurative portrayal of adolescence by Balthus.
“I find painting so attractive; there is so much for me to absorb,” says Kim. “I liken the creative aspects and technical skills required in painting, to photography, where the camera is the brush, and the processing, the canvas. In both, once the technical foundation is laid, the creative aspect comes from the imagination and the desire the express the self. In that, lies control of the outcome.”
Kim Weston lives with his wife and principal model, Gina Weston, on Wildcat Hill, overlooking the craggy coast and Pacific blue backdrop framing Carmel. The couple make their home in the legendary cabin built, according to a pier block under the house, in 1937, for Edward Weston. It was there that the master photographer lived until his passing in 1958. And it was there that Kim and Gina brought home and raised their son, Zach Cole Weston, also a photographer, now 25.
The coastal beauty that draws Kim to the area, and the legacy that anchors him there remain steadfast in his life. It is he who changes, a chameleon whose life experiences and maturing throughout his years, constantly color his perspective.
Within Kim lives the temptation to return to the excitement and joy of making his first photograph at age 6, when he was already keenly aware of his environment. Even as his work changes through time, he still sees in each photograph, the steps made by the artist in him and, on that first tread, the small child, wide-eyed and wondering.
“The clarity of youth is crystalline,” says Kim. “And it truly is this aspect of the 6-year-old self that I seek today. Even as my eye matures, I strive never to lose that refreshing gaze. Like the wisdom of de Saint Exupéry’s ‘Little Prince,’ while there is nothing I can tell him, I always have something to show him.”
No one told Kim to be a photographer, just as no one told him to be a Weston. He simply is. It is his birthright, which Kim understood, himself, by the time he was 6 years old. No one taught him how to photograph; he picked it up by living it, by learning how to see through his father’s eyes, and his grandfather’s vantage, interpreted through the lens of a camera. So, too his son Zach, who never told his father he wanted to become a photographer; he simply asked for a camera.
Some people are born with perfect pitch. The Westons have keen acuity.
“The context in which I have lived my whole life,” says Kim, “is still the same – the photographers in my family who have gone before and who persist through the photographs and in the children they have left behind. As such, we may die to ourselves, yet to the world, we live on. This is an immortality I can live with.”
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