Telephone Fun With Al Weber

September 20th, 2011 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

Aerial, Commercial and Landscape Photographer Al Weber With Some Observations About The Telephone

About Al Weber…

Aerial Of San Rafael Swell, Utah copyright Al Weber.

Al Weber taught photography at the Ansel Adams Gallery workshops for many years. He also taught photography through the University of California Santa Cruz Extension along with Philip Hyde, Wynn Bullock, Dick Arentz, Dave Bohn, Wynn Hutchings and many others. Al Weber also ran his own popular photography workshops for many decades, the reunions of which are now called the Photographer’s Rendezvous and are well attended. The Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California, recently held an exhibition of Al Weber’s aerial photography and published a 56 page catalog of the event. Al Weber has been exhibited in over 200 prominent venues world wide. He fondly recalls when his friend Philip Hyde attended the Rendezvous or when he ran into Philip Hyde in the field in some lonely place like the East Side of the Sierra Nevada, maybe somewhere near Bishop, Lee Vining or Mono Lake. Al Weber was one of the instigators of the photographic element of the Save Mono Lake Project called At Mono Lake. Al Weber’s biography on the Lumiere Gallery website gives more particulars:

 Al Weber was born in Denver Colorado in 1930. He received an A.A. in photography and a B.A. in Eduction from the University of Denver and served as a Captain in the Marines during the Korean Conflict. After his military service he moved to the Monterey Peninsula and established himself as a commercial photograph. Weber’s career spans six decades. He is internationally recognized for the breadth of his work and contributions as a teacher and mentor. Weber’s images have been shown in over 200 exhibitions. An accomplished commercial photographer, his commissions include work for Time-Life, Fortune and Holiday magazines. Corporate clients include Dupont, Kaiser, International Harvester, Eastman Kodak, Polaroid and Hasselblad. His photographs are in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, M. H. de Young Museum, UCLA, Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Ansel Adams Collection.

With a wry sense of humor, Al Weber is not a big talker, but he knows how to sip a good drink and tell a story. In his newsletter that he calls the “Stare Network,” Al Weber is also good at poking fun at what needs poking fun at. Here’s an original piece by Al Weber originally published in his newsletter:

The Telephone

By Al Weber

 My daughter-in-law, Sara, was talking on her cell phone as I walked into the living room. From there into the dining room, a distance of 20 feet, was my son, Robert, sitting at the table and also talking on his phone. They were talking to each other.

At the airport in El Paso, a group of teenagers sat nearby in the waiting area. They were talking to each other on their cell phones.

Approaching Winnemucca, Nevada on Interstate 80, already driving substantially above the speed limit, a car passed me. They were really hauling. The driver was on his cell phone.

In line at the post office, John Livingstone was talking on his phone. He didn’t really need a phone as everyone in the building could hear him.

Cruising the aisles in Safeway, a man blocked others as he got instructions, via his phone, on which brand of tomatoes to buy.

On TV, a man dressed in blue jeans with no belt and wearing a T-shirt introduced a new electronic gadget at a San Francisco trade show. I’m told he is a genius. His name is Jobs. Now I’m told his gadget is faulty. What do you expect from someone who dresses like that? Twelve weeks at Parris Island might straighten him out (Marine boot camp).

Growing up in Denver, I remember our telephone. It quietly sat there on a recessed shelf by the front door. It rang a few times each week. Someone always answered it. Today, rarely do I reach a real person when I place a call. Push this or push that. They’re always out or on the other line. “Your call is very important to us…..” If it’s so important, why don’t you just answer the phone?

Of all the people who should be competent with a telephone, AT&T seems obvious. My darkroom phone quit and Suzie called for service. The Keystone Cops or maybe the Marx Brothers couldn’t be funnier. Almost an hour of press this or press that, then several hang-ups and finally a recording offering a repair man in 5 days, who would arrive somewhere between 8AM and 8PM.

No one, it seems has one telephone. They’re all over the house. And then there is ‘Call Waiting’ and blocked numbers and on and on.

We live in a frenzy dominated by telephones. The time wasted, just waiting for that call back, is maddening. The advertisement says, “Just ask your doctor”. Who are they kidding? The cardiologist I go to may be very smart when it comes to fixing my body, but he can’t seem to figure out how to use a telephone. Neither can his receptionist.

The only people skilled in telephone use are the marketers, always at mealtime of course.

It appears this man Jobs contributes mightily to our plight, our uncontrollable attraction to a complicated, expensive device that has become more of a toy than a tool. But it’s so magnetic, and the colors are so cool. There are so many functions and it makes us feel so hip. I’d like to suggest one more function to Mr. Jobs. Bring back the reliability of the old telephones.

Learn More…

Listen to excerpts of Al Weber’s Gallery Talk. For more Al Weber images, view his Lumiere Gallery Artist’s Page. To read more about Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops see the blog post, “Photography Workshops Taught By Philip Hyde.”



  1. pj says:

    I greatly enjoyed Al Weber’s piece David. Thanks for posting it.

    What he says is hilarious but true. You see people all over who are so intent on staying connected to their phones that they are oblivious to most of what’s going on around them. I was over on Wilshire Blvd one day and I saw two guys dressed in suits walking in opposite directions. Both were walking along, hunched forward barking something into their cell phones and slammed right into each other head to head. Funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time…

  2. Hi PJ, thank you for sharing that funny story. That’s an example of the kind of moment when I wish I had my camera with me.

  3. pj says:

    It was a situation that just begged for video.

  4. Hi PJ, LOL. That makes sense.

  5. Sharon says:

    I love the aerial photo of Mr. Weber’s, David. It is like a dragon’s back – stretched out – love the light projecting the deep shadows. I really like this photograph.

    I have to admit – I like my iphone a great deal. I have surf apps that show what the surf will be like and tide apps that tell me high and low tide. I especially like The Photographer’s Ephemeris. It is wonderful since, living on an island, I can always get a sun/moon/rise/set somewhere on a beach and it will show me the exact angle.

    Mr. Weber’s story of the man on the phone at the post office reminded me of my grandfather’s life in western Oklahoma and how he made daily trips to town to get his mail and would stop to greet all his friends – that was his facebook. Everyone was always so glad to see him and he enjoyed the brief daily contact.

  6. Hi Sharon, glad to have you say you like that image. I didn’t pick it and there are others of Al Weber’s that I like better, but any of his photographs are top notch. He’s a class act and one of the few older mentors we have that could really photograph with or without any kind of post-processing. The more I look at that one though, the more I like it. The way it is framed makes me wonder about the geological formation. Talk about making a good portrait of the land. How in the world does the Earth make shapes like that? What a beautiful and strange world we live on.

    In the current Art Wolfe video blog post he talks about making wide angle photographs of a formation in New Zealand called Pancake Rocks. He mentions that nobody is sure exactly how the formation was made. That’s not overly surprising, but it is mind boggling that we see all around the planet these interesting shapes and we aren’t even sure how they all got there.

    I like your grandfather’s “Facebook.” That generation and earlier had many interesting ways of socializing, mainly all based on the slower pace of life. Wouldn’t it be great if we could decrease the flow of information and increase the time we spent connecting with wild wonders like the San Rafael Swell in Utah, or as Dad called it Oooootah!

  7. I would love to have seen the collision of the two men walking into each other. The cellphones and PDA’s are the worst offenders on all our flights. People do not want to put them away even for the 8-12 minutes it takes to reach an altitude where they can use them. Thanks for the laugh!

  8. Hi Monte, thanks for laughing…and to PJ for sharing that visual. It’s amazing how important a person becomes in their own mind once they pick up the telephone.

  9. Greg Russell says:

    I’m with Sharon–I really like the image a lot. You have to love the monoclines in southern Utah–the San Rafael Swell, as well as the Waterpocket Fold and Comb Ridge. The closest I’ve come to an aerial view is standing at the Strike Valley Overlook in Capitol Reef…you have a very nice view of the Waterpocket Fold, especially at sunset.

    As a teacher, I lecture and watch all my students on their phones…sending texts, and clearly distancing themselves from “reality.” I did once have a student answer her phone in lecture. Dumbfounded doesn’t really begin to describe my reaction. While I can relate to Sharon, I do see the value in “unplugging” now and again to realign my life!


  10. joe faust says:

    Hi Al:

    This is Joe Faust.

    I like your writing alot-it’s fun to read. You may have a big future in writing.

    Hope you’re feeling well. All is well here.

    Of course, all my photos are digital now.

    Give my best to Suzie.

    Joe Faust
    Saratoga, Ca.

  11. Thank you for your comment, Joe.

Leave a Reply