Ed began photographing seriously in 1956 when he started shooting in a 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 camera. In 1962 he started shooting in 4x5 film format with a view camera, and over the next 50 years built perhaps the largest private library of large format inspirational, mountain and nature images in North America. He began digital photography in 2007, both adding new images, as well as converting old film from the previous decades, to digital form. All photos are unedited and unaltered except for the digital restoration of the older film images.
Over the years his work has appeared in calendars, greeting cards, church bulletins, posters, his own personal wine country and northern California coast postcard line, and many other commercial uses, as well multiple magazine covers, including a National Geographic of July, 1977. He also has a number of mountain and nature books to his credit, and was a pioneer rock climber in his early years making many first ascents, including one on El Capitan, in 1962, all before most modern climbing gear had been invented. His photography strongly reflects this climbing heritage.
Many of these images are now available for viewing as low-res j-pegs, but all images are backed up by hi-res images of up to 280 MB or larger, for super sharp enlargements and reproductions. Exhibition and archive quality, signed, and numbered prints are also available for collectors, with certificate of authenticity, directly from me. Please message me for details if interested. Less expensive prints available here on FAA.
In Ed's words: Reviewing my 60+ years in photography, there are tens of thousands of images. I am in the process now of scanning to digital form some of the best of these images. The good news is that I will never run out of interesting work to do. The not-so-good news is that I will never accomplish all that I would like to do in the years that are left to me. Where did it all start? I’ll try to give a short synopsis below.
I was born in upper New York State. My first 16 years were rather uneventful, although I did have one interesting encounter with photography. One of my father’s friends gave me an inexpensive enlarger, and I remember that I became fascinated watching images appear on photographic paper as they were developed in the darkroom. Soon, my interest waned as I became involved in teen angst. The problem: there was no photographic subject which aroused my passion.
That all changed when I was 16. On a moment’s notice, I went out west with my sister with no idea of what to expect. Besides going to Yellowstone National Park (where a bear climbed into the open door of our car to steal food) and Jackson Hole and the Tetons, we went to Washington and hired a guide to take us up Mt. Rainier. Upon reflection, after climbing it, I realized that this was a turning point in my life. The mountains were to be my future destiny.
One thing led to another. I switched colleges: from Cornell University to the University of Washington to be closer to the mountains. Almost every weekend contained a mountain adventure somewhere. In 1958 I made a climb of Mt. McKinley in Alaska. Further, I found that capturing images of my adventures became as important as the adventures themselves.
My climbs became more difficult, including first ascents in the North Cascades of Washington, a climb of the notorious Willis Wall on Mt. Rainier, and a new route on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley (the Dihedral Wall, in 1962). My interest in photography advanced at the same pace. I bought my first 4x5 camera, a Speed Graphic, in 1962.
In every life there are steps backwards as your ideal life style is interrupted. My bugaboo was money….I didn’t have any. I got a job as a stockbroker with a Wall Street firm. How I hated it! At 30 years old, after saving some money, I resigned from my job as a stockbroker where I had to wear a business costume (as I called it) every day, and never looked back!
It wasn’t long before my interest in photography outpaced my interest in doing difficult (and sometimes dangerous) climbs. I progressed to a 5x7 view camera and even an 8x10 view camera. I jury-rigged a way to shoot powerful telephoto shots in the large format, an ability not available at that time. I started shooting photos at a furious pace. One day in the Tetons in the 1970’s, I shot over 100 4x5 chromes in one day. I visited almost every major mountain range in North America.
Along the way I met Debby Page. She became my wife and life partner in 1968 and has assisted for many years in our sales of stock photography. (She has even become a reasonably good photographer herself.) We now have two adult children, and four grandchildren, with a fifth due in a few months. We take a couple of trips a year; we BOTH shoot pictures, focusing on out-of-the-way areas, leaving to the crowds places like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and other high-traffic areas.
I have written three books, and my photos have appeared in at least 100 more. I also had a cover on National Geographic Magazine (July 1977). I now shoot in digital format. It is much easier on my back not having to carry some 25 pounds or more of photo gear. Only one drawback: the new images have nowhere near the megapixel size of the 4x5 format. I scan 4x5 images at 2400 dpi, giving an image size of about 280 megabytes. This means that you can enlarge one of my scanned images to 30x40 inches and still be at 300 dpi (dots per inch).
Of course, there is a lot more to my life than written here; that story is told in Soul of the Heights, 50 Years Going to the Mountains, published in 2007 by Globe Pequot Press.
Ed Cooper Photography joined Fine Art America on October 13th, 2014.