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

Photographer

Anthony Linck

Girls of the Children's School of Modern Dancing, rehearsing on the beach. (Photo by Lisa Larsen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Lisa Larsen

Yugoslavian infantrymen and an officer dancing the conga-like Kolo while singing. (Photo by John Phillips/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

John Philips

Motorcyclists racing 75 miles cross country through Mojave Desert. (Photo by Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Bill Eppridge

Pitcher Satchel Paige with fans, New York City, 1941. (Photo by George Strock/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

George Strock

Dr. Arnold Gesell (C) studying baby at Yale's child psychology lab. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Herbert Gehr