Cole worked with his father in the darkroom during the last ten years of Edward’s life. He devoted himself to his father’s well-being during Edward’s years with Parkinson’s. Edward asked in his will that Cole be the only person to print his negatives after his passing. Cole was completely committed to his father and was bound and determined to carry out, to the best of his ability and knowledge, Edward’s last wishes.
When I married Cole in the early 1960s, we lived at Garrapata, and Cole had a small, red-painted darkroom where he did the printing. In his will, Edward had stated that no prints should be sold for less than thirty dollars—so Cole initially priced them at thirty-five dollars. There was virtually no fine art photography market at this time, and very few of these prints were sold. Cole was also continuing his own work as a photographer in these years, but he was determined that Edward’s legacy should live on, and so he continued to print from Edward’s negatives and traveled around the country doing workshops and lecturing on his father’s life and work.
I remember Cole working long hours in the darkroom to be sure that each print was perfectly done to Edward’s specifications. In those early years, the ink stamp that most often appears on the mounts of these prints was not yet in existence, and so Cole would inscribe and sign them entirely in pencil, ‘Negative by Edward Weston, Print by Cole Weston.’ I still have a few of these early prints which hung in our home at the time.
Lee Witkin, whose Witkin Gallery was one of the earliest photographic galleries in New York, came to visit Cole often. Lee was the first dealer to buy Cole’s prints from Edward’s negatives, and in 1969, amongst the Witkin Gallery’s inaugural exhibitions was one comprised entirely of Edward’s photographs printed by Cole. Lee and Cole subsequently did many projects together, including a show of Cole’s own work, in the years that followed.
It was John Szarkowski from The Museum of Modern Art in New York who helped us make arrangements for Edward’s negatives, photographs, and papers to be acquired by the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, where they reside today. The agreement made with the Center allowed Cole to retain the right to print from the negatives until his own death; and thereafter the negatives were to remain at the Center and be used for educational purposes only. I remember Cole being very satisfied and relieved with this arrangement, knowing that his father’s negatives would be protected for future generations to study, in perpetuity.