Mason Anne Weaver was named after her grandfather. And since her first roll call most people think she’s going to be a boy. Now she mostly uses that to her advantage. She grew-up in the suburbs of Chicago during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Her fascination with photography began in her teens when she borrowed her father’s old Leica III camera. She began taking photos of the her neighborhood, kids riding bicycles, local pets and the animals at the zoo, the “L” train, and the city. She entered several of her photos in local contest and even managed to win a few.
In 1963, her future prospects, according to her mother, were to find a husband or go to college to find a husband. She opted for college but omitted the plans to find a husband. She decided that her hobby was a good start for a degree in either photography or journalism and pursued it along with a degree English. She began working for the college paper and in her senior year earned a spot to travel to New York City to hear Martin Luther King speak at Riverside Church.
After listening to the “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” speech Mason began taking photos at Civil Rights gatherings; as well as the protests in D.C. A few of her photos appeared in newspapers and magazines.
By 1970 she found herself in Vietnam as an investigative photojournalist or, as some would call her depending on what was on the other side of her lens, an “anti-war” photographer. She believes (and still does) that pictures speak for themselves and she always tries to stay out of the politics of it all.
She was embedded with the MAC V-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group). And, by the end of the war in 1973 Mason had one of her photos on the cover of Time magazine.
Her last excursion before leaving Vietnam was to take one more trip into the jungle following a former SAS Captain who was reportedly looking for a down helicopter and its pilot. The little adventure was more harrowing than being embedded with the MAC V-SOG. After all, she had been right, there was something very suspicious about the story of the downed craft and the pilot. There were chases, gunfire, vampires, dying, and James.
By the end only four people walked out of the jungle. No one talks about it.