Portraits Through Time

Kurt Weston photography at OCCCA

An interview with award-winning photographer Kurt Weston about art, photography, and surviving two pandemics

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic brought everything to a halt for many of us, myself included. Then, last year, slowly but surely, I could resume working on small projects, such as interviewing and photographing people for publications. Luckily for me, award-winning, legally blind photographer, activist, and mentor Kurt Weston was one of the first individuals I got to interview last spring for a feature article originally published in Out IN Jersey Magazine. (Kurt Weston is also a Nikon photographer (hence, I chose Nikon, too), he’s the reason why I became interested in photography, and in black-and-white portraiture in particular.)

Award-winning photographer Kurt Weston at the opening of his show, REMEMBER: An AIDS Retrospective, at OCCCA, on World AIDS Day 2018. ©Alina Oswald.

During the interview, Kurt Weston talked about art, photography, portraiture, and the importance of connecting with our subjects especially when photographing people; he also talked about photographing Pride events in black and white, and about surviving two pandemics–HIV and AIDS, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s an excerpt:

There’s a certain interaction that has to take place between photographer and subject for a photograph to capture the essence of its subject, or, as Weston calls it, “a partnership in the making of art.” He adds, “I want to document [my subjects] at a certain time in their life, and in the life of our planet, but I don’t think of myself as a documentary photographer. When I photograph somebody, I want to make a document, but also to emphasize aspects of their personality—who they are or who they see themselves as being within the context of the greater society, and bring all that out in the photograph.”

The opening of Kurt Weston’s show, REMEMBER: An AIDS Retrospective, at OCCCA, on World AIDS Day 2018. ©Alina Oswald.

You can read the full article on the Out IN Jersey Magazine website. For now, I’ll leave with this quote by Kurt Weston, a piece of advice to aspiring photographers:

“To be a good artist, you have to love what you’re doing and be passionate about what you’re doing. You have to be authentic about what you are making as an artist. It has to be something that you have or feel a commitment to. That way, through your art, you can communicate what it is that you’re trying to say that will have a far reach into the society and the culture. Because art does not exist in a vacuum, to me, it’s all about communicating. And that’s why it’s very important to do it as a genuine, authentic person expressing a genuine, authentic idea and concept manifested in a meaningful manner so that it has the most impact.”

With Terry Roberts and award-winning photographer Kurt Weston attending the opening night of Weston's show, Remember: An AIDS Retrospective, at OCCCA.
With Terry Roberts and award-winning photographer Kurt Weston attending the opening night of Weston’s show, Remember: An AIDS Retrospective, at OCCCA.

For more samples of my published work, feel free to check out my Portfolio page.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Alina Oswald

PS: Nikon photographers, check out the brand new Nikon Z 400mm

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