March 10, 1924
Visiting the museum last week focused my thoughts once more on the issue of photography. For what end is the camera best used aside from its purely scientific and commercial uses?
The answer comes always more clearly after seeing great work of the sculptor or painter, past or present, work based on conventionalized nature, superb forms, decorative motives. That the approach to photography must be through another avenue, that the camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh.
I see in my recent negatives of the circus tent and of the glass roof and stairway at San Pablo — pleasant and beautiful abstractions, intellectual juggleries which presented no profound problem. But in the several new heads of Lupe, Galvan, and Tina, I have caught fractions of seconds of emotional intensity which a worker in no other medium could have done as well.
I shall let no chance pass to record interesting abstractions, but I feel definite in my belief that the approach to photography is through realism — and its most difficult approach.
From the Daybooks of Edward Weston.