Nature through a geologist’s lens

by | Jan 27, 2022 | Alumni Network, Alumni Profiles, Winter 2022 | 0 comments

Stephen Weaver

Any good photographer can tell you that light, composition and the subject are what make an image. Professional nature photographer Stephen Weaver PhD ’88 knows his subject more than most—he’s also an igneous petrologist geochemist and thus uniquely positioned to capture nature’s beauty with a lens.

Weaver, who is in his 27th year as technical director of the geology department at Colorado College, photographs both grand and intimate landscapes, combining his lifelong affinity for nature with his creative passions and geologic understanding to produce vibrant images of the natural world.

Weaver’s “Lithic Landscapes” series—a collection of photos of various forms and formations of rock—depicts stunning colors and artful formations on both large and small scales. When deciding what rocks to shoot, Weaver prioritizes beauty and light. “I look for images based on variations of textures, layers, lines, shapes and colors,” he said, “and for compositions that show the viewer a beautiful, artful image extracted from the rock unit and outcrop.”

In addition to his technical knowledge of geology and other natural sciences, Weaver uses his understanding of light and geometry to help him compose his works. “My compositions are all about ‘seeing’ and extracting an image from the often chaotic and messy views of nature,” Weaver said. “I strive to make images that are not only beautiful and pleasing to the eye but that also illustrate something of the complexities of the rocks that make up earth materials and contribute to the structure of the surface landscape.”

When asked what inspired him to make art from nature, Weaver said it’s his natural inclination. He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and spent his childhood hiking and exploring the outdoors. “I was getting biology, geology—the whole of natural sciences,” he said. “I’ve always been a field person.”

As a new geologist, Weaver originally started photographing rock formations as part of his field work. “I always had a camera with me, so it was the perfect thing,” he said. He began earning money from his work by selling photographs for use in geologic textbooks, and his artistic talent combined with his knowledge of rocks made him the perfect candidate to find the right images.

Today, Weaver focuses solely on fine art photography, showing his pieces in galleries and selling them on his website. He also teaches photography around the state and plans to retire next year and spend even more time outdoors.

Weaver hopes his work touches viewers both by showing them something beautiful and by reminding them of the importance of preserving the natural world. His artistic eye combined with his geologic knowledge render in stunning detail aspects of nature the rest of us may be unlikely to notice on our own. As he put it, “I’m really trying to communicate the presence of the natural world to the viewer and really trying to spark their interest.”

Learn more about Weaver and his photography at