Colin Westerbeck: Photo Synthesis
|Colin Westerbeck was a Curator of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago for seventeen years. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2003, he has been teaching photographic history at the University of Southern California and curating exhibitions for museums or private collections in both Chicago and Los Angeles. Among his publications are Bystander, A History of Street Photography, co-authored with Joel Meyerowitz, and Irving Penn, A Career in Photography. Westerbeck is currently a writer for the Los Angeles Times contributing the weekly column “Photo Synthesis “ to the newspaper’s Sunday magazine.
When the Los Angeles Times was planning to re-launch its Sunday magazine under the title west, the editors decided they wanted to have a weekly one-page feature that would showcase a photograph and provide a brief commentary on it. The only stipulation was that it be a photograph of California or the West. The editors also felt that they would need to go to an outside voice to get the tone that would be appropriate.
When I had moved to L.A. in 2003, I tried, through a journalist I knew who’d worked at the Times, to contact an editor in the arts section in order to offer my services as a writer. Nothing came of that overture, but a year later, when an internal memo circulated seeking suggestions for west contributing writers, the editor I had originally been in touch with remembered that he had in the bottom of one of his desk drawers a letter from me. Once the west team determined that my approach was what they were looking for, they left everything up to me, from the choosing of the photograph each week to the title of the column, Photo Synthesis. (Colin Westerbeck, Jan 2007)