At the end of the 1960s Stettner began teaching and lecturing at Cooper Union, Brooklyn College, then at Long Island University. Having been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Stettner photographed his Worker Series. In 1975, he was awarded First Prize at the Pravda World Contest for Photography and spent six weeks photographing the Soviet Union.
By the early 1980s Stettner had ceased both teaching and writing his Speaking Out column, devoting the next several decades to furthering the development and expression of his own creative vision.
In 1990, Stettner returned permanently to France, where his photographs continued to be appreciated throughout Europe. He also began to paint, draw and sculpt. He was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2001. Notably during these last years, Stettner began his Manhattan Pastorale color series through summer trips to New York and a three-year project of photographing the Alpilles in Provence with an 8×10 large format field camera, continuing as ever to print his own photographs. Stettner died in Paris on October 13, 2016, a month after the closing of his exhibition, Ici Ailleurs, at Centre Pompidou.
Throughout his prolific career, Louis Stettner, a force of nature with a Whitmaneque passion for life and the inquiring mind of a philosopher, interacted with and was befriended by many of the most significant photographers of the Humanist school of photography of the 20th Century: Stieglitz, Brassai, Strand, Weegee, Cartier-Bresson, Sid Grossman, Lou Faurer, Lisette Model, Boubat, among many others. The encouragement of fellow photographers, whose reflections and critiques of his work Stettner profoundly valued, was to reinforce a life-time passion, that of grasping the significance of life and reality around him.
« …it was a joyous route, such magnificent sights and human splendor along the way that difficulties magically effaced themselves. One regretted nothing and would have it no other way. »
Louis Stetter, Wisdom Cries Out in the Streets