In recent weeks and months three monumental photographers have died. They have all passed on quietly, but there are certainly those who mourn their loss. No doubt but what they had many collectors and admirers as well as many students who respected and in many cases loved these individuals for their dedication to perfection, knowledge, and advancing the practice of photography.
Lewis Baltz died on November 22, 2014 in Paris, France. He was known for his formally composed images of somewhat mundane and municipal scenes. Many of these were in the highly influential exhibition, “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape.” This was presented at the George Eastman House in 1975. Baltz grew up in Southern California, was educated at the San Francisco Art Institute graduating in 1969. He received his MFA from Claremont Graduate School in 1971.
He moved to Europe in the late 1980s and taught for many years in Switzerland and Italy. His work always seemed to contain the thread of skepticism that he held about the photographic medium—or at least the art-photography world. According to his obituary in the NY Times Baltz once said in an interview, “I think being a photographer is a little like being a whore,” with his characteristic bone-dry wit. “If you’re really, really good at it, nobody will call you that.”
On Nov ember 10, 2014 David Stoecklein, Master Photographer of the West passed away in the hospital. He was 65 years old. He had a lifetime of photography just in the assignments from many companies as well as magazines. In addition to this body of work he published 28 books, produced and sold cards, calendars, and posters through his web site. He was a superb teacher and would talk enthusiastically to students about his work and approach to photography as long as they would listen. Recognized and presented awards as the “Master Photographer of the West,” Dave and his enthusiastic imagery will be sorely missed.
Dave also taught many workshops at his ranch in McKay, Idaho. All of his students had positive things to say about their experience. These students will sadly feel this loss.
Ray K. Metzker in October 2014. He had been in poor health for several years. He was born in 1931, earned a degree at Beloit and then attended the Institute of Design in Chicago in the mid-fifties. There Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind influenced him. According to Laurence Miller, Ray’s gallerist, “Ray had a relentless pursuit of personal growth as an artist.”
Continuing Miller added, “What Callahan and Siskind gave to Ray was the belief that you could pursue a lifetime of making pictures, that it was worth doing, rather than being a journalist, or fashion photographer, or commercial photographer as most others did.”
Miller says. “Ray chose to live a humble life and make pictures. His work wasn’t on the cover of Vogue. He didn’t need to scream out, I’m great. He did it very quietly.”
Metzker’s death was the subject of a recent post, this jut contained wonderful comments by Mr. Miller.