I always think it’s kind of funny that Ralph Eugene Meatyard happened to be born in ‘Normal’, Illinois - although, he did end up living and working in Lexington, Kentucky. Meatyard earned his living as an optician. He worked for a company that also sold photographic equipment and the owners were members of the Lexington Camera Club.
Meatyard purchased his first camera in 1950 so that he could photograph his son and worked primarily with a Rolleiflex medium-format camera, thus, the square format photographs. In 1954 he joined the Lexington Camera Club.
During the mid-1950s, Meatyard attended a summer workshop with Minor White. White had a huge influence on Meatyard's interest in Zen Philosophy.
Meatyard worked outside of the photographic mainstream, he often experimented with multiple exposures, motion blur, and other methods of photographic abstraction. His subject matter often included family members enacting symbolic dramas, set in abandoned places.
He died from congenital heart failure at the age of 46. His early death came during a period of growth in photography in the United States that coincided with the political and social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s.
His work was just beginning to be recognized nationally at the time of his death in 1972.