Peter Stackpole with his camera. (Photo by Hans Knopf/The LIFE Images Collection)

Peter Stackpole with his camera. (Photo by Hans Knopf/The LIFE Images Collection)

His mother was a painter. His father was a sculptor: “When my father saw me with this little camera at his stone yard, he said, ‘You don’t need that thing.’ He reached in his pocket and took out a pencil and made a sketch of me in no time, and said. This is all you need.'” But his father had only himself to blame for introducing Peter Stackpole (1913-1997) to the legendary Edward Weston. “I was spellbound looking at his work because it was so clear and precise, with beautiful forms and beautiful values .. . when I showed Weston some of the pictures I had taken of building the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, he encouraged me. Ansel Adams did too.” This attention proved to be heaven-sent, and Stackpole became one of LIFE’S original quartet of photographers. He could see a picture, and react, instantly. “I never photographed a subject more than one or two exposures. Then I’d go on to something else,” he said. “I don’t admire photographers who use motors.” 

Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

Female pilot of the US Women's Air Force Service posed with her leg up on the wing of an airplane. (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Female pilot of the US Women’s Air Force Service posed with her leg up on the wing of an airplane. (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Peter Stackpole with his camera standing on a suspension cable as he covers the construction of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Peter Stackpole with his camera standing on a suspension cable as he covers the construction of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Joan Fontaine looking at the Best Actress Oscar she won for her role in the film "Suspicion." (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Joan Fontaine looking at the Best Actress Oscar she won for her role in the film “Suspicion.” (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

More Like This

Cleveland Browns Vince Costello (#50) wrapping a tackle around Green Bay Packers running back Jim Taylor. (Photo by Arthur Rickerby/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Arthur Rickerby

Members of 1st Marine Division carrying their wounded during the Vietnam War, 1966. (Photo by Larry Burrows/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Larry Burrows

A tiger setting out at dusk for night of hunting in Kanha National Park, Central India(Photo by Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Stan Wayman

Bushman children playing games on sand dunes.(Photo by N.R. Farbman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

N.R. Farbman

Drawing room at Notre-Dame-de-Vie withPortraits of Picasso and wife Jacqueline taken by David Douglas Duncan (Photo by Gjon Mili/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

David Douglas Duncan

Washington, D.C. skyline in 1901. (Photo by Charles Phillips/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Charles Philips