Baltz graduated from San Francisco Art Institute in 1969 and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Claremont Graduate School. He received several scholarships and awards including a scholarship from the National Endowment For the Arts (1973, 1977), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (1977), US-UK Bicentennial Exchange Fellowship (1980), and Charles Brett Memorial Award (1991). In 2002 Lewis Baltz became a Professor for Photography at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee. Baltz is now living in Paris and Milano.
His entire work is focused on the counter-aesthetic of photography, searching beauty in desolation and destruction. Baltz images describe the architecture of the human landscape, offices, factories, and parking lots. His pictures are the reflection of control, power, and influenced by and over human beings. His minimalistic photographies in the trilogy Ronde de Nuit, Docile Bodies, and Politics of Bacteria, picture the void of the other, in 1974 he captured the anonymity and the relationships between inhabitation, settlement, and anonymity in The new Industrial Parks near Irvine, California (1974).
He moved to Europe in the late 1980s and started to use large colored prints. Several books and articles featured his creations including Geschichten von Verlangen und Macht, with Slavica Perkovic. Scalo, Zurich and New York, 1986. Other photographics series, including Sites of Technology (1989-92), depict the clinical, pristine interiors of hi-tech industries and government research centres, principally in France and Japan.
His books and exhibitions, his "topographic work", such as The New Industrial Parks, Nevada, San Quentin Point, Candlestick Point (84 photographs documenting a public space near Candlestick Park, ruined by natural detritus and human intervention), exposing the crisis of technology and of man, had an enormous influence on a generation of photographers trying to define both objectivity and role of the artist in photographs.
The story Deaths in Newport was produced as a book and CD-Rom in 1995. His works have been presented in numerous exhibitions around the world, and appear in museums such as The Museum of Modern Art, Paris, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He writes for many reviews, and contributes regularly to L'Architecture D'Aujourd'hui.