John Stuart Cloud was born in 1914 in Minneapolis and passed away in 2007 in Medford, Massachusetts. Cloud was taught photography by his father and at Boston University where he traded his photography services for classes.
Cloud had a lengthy career as a commercial and industrial photographer but gained a small measure of public renown for several aspects of his unusual personal life that intersected with his work. Cloud was a close friend of Norman Rockwell and collaborated with the artist by taking photographs, the subjects of which Rockwell incorporated into his paintings. Their collaborative process was documented in articles that appeared in 1948 in American Camera magazine and the Saturday Evening Post.
In 1949 the Saturday Evening Post reported on another aspect of Cloud's life in an article titled "Even You Can Own an Island." The year before Cloud and his wife had purchased a tiny uninhabited island in Maine which they discovered while he was taking aerial photographs of a factory in Portland, Maine. They built a log cabin on the island and their rustic life there was also featured in articles that appeared in 1954 in Life magazine and in Reader's Digest.
By 1949 there was a new addition to the Cloud family: a female monkey named Jo-Jo. Jo-Jo's antics in the photography studio and her run of the tiny island were captured on camera by Cloud and featured in a 1949 article in U.S. Camera magazine.
In 1947 Cloud took a group of photographs as promotional tools for Thomas Taylor and Sons, Inc., a Hudson, Massachusetts manufacturer of elastic shoe goring, shoe and corset laces, braids and trimmings. The photographs each depict a different stylish woman’s shoe. In each image the photographer has placed a single shoe in a dramatic, fantasy setting, sometimes amongst flowers, furs and architectural fragments and under artificial moonlight. The effect is undeniably surrealistic, with the juxtaposition of the evocative objects against moody backgrounds and the suggestion of disembodied feet. Some of the photographs show the shoes dramatically lit against graphic, high-contrast backgrounds, set amongst props chosen for their sculptural shapes, resulting a lively modernistic impact.
The fashion film-noir Cloud created in his photographs for Taylor and Sons creates a haunting and hypnotic effect, an artistic achievement for the photographer and a commercial success for his client.