There Were No Flowers: Margrethe Mather (w/ Travis Cannady)

We’re talking to Travis Cannady (@travis_cannady on IG), photographer and publisher of Better Off Zine. For our main feature, we’ll tell you the story of the nearly-forgotten, yet wildly influential Margretha Mather (@betteroffzine). And that means we’ll have to talk about Edward Weston too, so… apologizes all around. We’ve also a zine review and maybe even the answering machine. 

Travis Cannady

Along with being a film photographer and lab technician, our guest today, Travis Cannady is a zine maker. He creates and publishes his own, but he also does something pretty remarkable. He puts out a zine called Better Off. Each issue, the entire zine is dedicated to a single photographer. It’s the zine equivalent of a solo-show. Or really, it’s how some early photography periodicals used to do things. We’ve got him here, so let’s talk his ear off.

IG: @travis_cannady

IG: @betteroffzine


Buy Better Off Zine:

Here are some of his photos:

Margrethe Mather (and That Other Guy)

The story of Margrethe Mather is not a simple story to tell. She was not a simple woman, nor a simple photographer. She was an anarchist in every sense of the word and held neither gods nor masters above her. Though wildly creative, she had little ambition for self-promotion, once telling Edward Weston, to leave her unremembered, to “pretend that I didn’t exist.”

In biographies of Edward Weston prior to the 1980s, if she is mentioned at all, Margrethe Mather is hardly more than a footnote. She was thought of as a woman, often naked, who posed for the great Edward Weston. The story of the two of them together had been consumed into his story alone. And it is our job to separate them. But that is no easy task.

However, by Imogen Cunningham’s reckoning, “in artistic matters Margrethe was, of course, the teacher. Edward, the pupil.” Margrethe’s influence upon Weston can hardly be overstated. He followed her lead, and sometimes flat out copied her style.

They were friends, companions, lovers, collaborators and ultimately estranged. Their relationship was in many ways mutually toxic. But since humans are always complicated, it was also mutually essential to their growth as artists.

Here are some of Margrethe’s photos:

And here are some of Weston’s photos taken of and with Margrethe:

The Center for Creative Photography issue we reference is available here:

You can borrow Artful Lives by Beth Gates Warren online here:

We also recommend: Margrethe Mather & Edward Weston; A Passionate Collaboration also by Beth Gates Warren.

There are no other books about Margrethe Mather. There are a shit ton of books about Edward Weston.

Zine Review

Fool Me Once, Fool You Twice by Tee Ferguson

This is highly saturated, full color, 88 page perfect bound zine made up entirely of double exposures, all of which happened in-camera. She’d shoot an entire roll, re-roll it and shoot it again. This allowed for happenstance and serendipity to work their magic. 

IG: @tee.ferguson

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Music by Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers

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Eric: IGFlickrZinesECN-2 Kit

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