Famous Photographers: Ansel Adams By: Ian johnson, period 7

Adams' Early life

Adams was born in the Western Addition of San Francisco, California. In 1916, when Adams was in his youth, Adams and his family went to Yosemite National Park and that is where he was taken away by its pure beauty, during that trip he was given a Kodak Brownie Box camera. There he took his first photos with his camera. The following year he returned to the park with his own equipment which was a big improvement over the Brownie. His first photographs were published in 1921, and Best's Studio began selling his Yosemite prints the following year. His early photos already showed careful composition and sensitivity to tonal balance. In letters and cards to family, he wrote of having dared to climb to the best view points and to brave the worst elements.

"The Tetons - Snake River", Wyoming, 1942

Adams' Mid-Life

Between 1929 and 1942, Adams' work matured and he became more established. In the 1930's he took many photos of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. He also experimented with close-up shots as well as more large formats such as mountains and factories. He also began to deploy his photographs in the cause of wilderness preservation. In the 1940's Ansel Adams' photos played a vital role in designating Yosemite and many other locations within the United States as National Parks.

Evening, McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park, 1942

Adams' Late Life

In 1952 Adams' was one of the founders of Aperture which was intended as a serious journal of photography showcasing its best practitioners and newest innovations. In June 1955, Adams began his annual workshops, teaching thousands of students until 1981. In the 1960s, a few mainstream art galleries (without a photographic emphasis), which originally would have considered photos unworthy of exhibit alongside fine paintings, decided to show Adams's images, particularly the former Kenmore Gallery in Philadelphia. Sadly Adams died from cardiovascular disease on April 22, 1984, at age 82.

"Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. I know of no sculpture, painting or music that exceeds the compelling spiritual command of the soaring shape of granite cliff and dome, of patina of light on rock and forest, and of the thunder and whispering of the falling, flowing waters. At first the colossal aspect may dominate; then we perceive and respond to the delicate and persuasive complex of nature." — Ansel Adams

Who did Adams' work for?

Adams usually didn't work for anyone, he would go out and take his pictures and then get companies to pay him to publish them. He did however work for the U.S. Government to photograph National Parks, The American West, Indian Reservations and much more.

Adams' Style and Specialization

Adams specialized in landscape photography being able to capture some of the most captivating landscape photographs ever produced. He preferred to use Black & White photography techniques, however he did scarcely work with colored photo techniques but, he preferred to take photos using Black&White coloring. He always used natural lighting while taking photos.

Adams' Equipment

Ansel Adams usually used a Hasselblad, a medium-format camera that uses 120mm roll film and is known for its high quality lenses, as well as a standard tripod.

The Person Who Influenced Adams

Ansel Adams was very much influenced by the work of Paul Strand. Paul Strand was an American photographer and filmmaker who, along with fellow modernist photographers helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century.

Personal Thoughts on Ansel Adams

Personally I really like Adams' work and story. It identifies with my interests and passions a lot. Our careers were both influenced by nature and the beauty of it. His landscape photos are mesmerizing and he really went above and beyond to accomplish his work. Him being an influential person in making some of the first U.S. National Parks with just his work is something I respect about him. Ever since I learned about Adams about 3 or 4 months ago I have taken a lot of inspiration in my landscape photography from the work he produced. I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to do a project on Adams' and to tell his story in a somewhat condensed version. Overall Adams work continues to inspire and capture the attention of people all over the world.

Created By
Ian Johnson


All images used are the work of Ansel Adams

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