Scanned from Popular Photography, December, 1939.
MY FAVORITE PICTURE by William Mortensen
This brilliant photographer, famed for his spectacular and dramatic effects, selects as his favorite work a picture that achieves effectiveness and charm through simplicity.
THIS, I think, is my favorite picture. Although I made it a good many years ago, my pleasure in it has not grown less, but rather inÂcreased. Many more spectacular “masterpieces” that excited me treÂmendously at the time have long since found their way into the ash can.
It lasts so well, I believe, because it expresses a universal idea withÂout straining after symbolismâ€”the close relationship of the eternal feminine and the fertile earth. One reason that it turned out so satisÂfactorily was the particular joy that went into its making. There was no especially laborious preparation: “Today we shall make a picture to be called ‘Woman of Languedoc.’ “
Instead we just took a few bits of costumes and went out to get some pictures. Everything was just right. The day pleased me, the light pleased me, the model pleased me very much. I was even pleased with myself. And, finally, the picÂture pleased me. She looked rather like a French peasant, so we called her “Woman of Languedoc.”
Nietzsche said: “What is good is easy; everything divine runs with light feet.” Lots of hard work may go into a picture, yet it must come off easily. That which is consumÂmated in dull drudgery cannot help but be dull.
“Woman of Languedoc” is a miniature shot, made with a Model F Leica camera. It was taken outÂdoors when the sunlight was conÂsiderably softened by an overcast sky. The print was made by the bromoil transfer process.
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