Ansel Adams is virtually a household name that is recognized the world over. When you look up black and white landscape images, it’s almost a guarantee that one will encounter some of his work. Additionally as one of the main proponents for the development of the zone system it is safe to say that he left his mark on the world of photography. Today, February 20, we celebrate his his birthday, continue on past the break for a look into his truly legendary career.
Born February 20, 1902 (Died April 22, 1984) , Ansel Adams was raised in an upper-class part of San Francisco, and it was here that he developed a love for nature at an early age. He taught himself play the piano at age twelve, which was to become the main focus of his youth and into his early adult life. He began his interest in photography after his first trip to Yosemite Valley in 1916 where his father had given him his first camera, a Kodak Brownie, and he took photos with his “usual hyperactive enthusiasm”. He progressively taught himself the craft, favoring realism and crisp, high-contrast in his images over the popular “Pictoralism” methods favored during this time. By 1927 he had produced his first Portfolio of these new methods entitled “Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras” which featured his famous print “Monolith, The Face of Half Dome” amongst many others.
During the 1930s, Adams’ abilities as a photographer had significantly matured, and he began to focus on more experimental work over just landscapes, additionally, in 1932 he helped found Group f.64 with Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston. The group’s emphasis was “Pure Photography” which meant the work would contain no qualities, techniques, compositions, or ideas from any other art form. In 1940 Ansel put together “A Pageant of Photography” which to date was the largest and most attended photography show in the west having been attended by millions of visitors. Throughout the rest of the decade Adams worked with the Department of the Interior to photograph our National Parks, Indian Reservations and other locations, with the images being used for mural-sized prints hung as decorations for the Department’s building.
Throughout the rest of his 60-year-career Ansel created some of the most memorable landscape and still life images ever recorded, many of which are instantly recognizable for their outstanding contrast and clarity, as well as his mastery over print production. Ansel Adams is a name that will live on forever as we admire the way he saw the American West and forever changed the world of landscape photography.
Ansel passed away on April 22, 1984 after suffering from a heart attack, his legacy lives on in his colossal body of work, and gallery showings. Additionally, numerous books have been published which showcase his work: Ansel Adams in the National Parks, Yosemite and the High Sierra, and a series of books on learning photography (which are still highly regarded) The Camera, The Negative, The Print
All images are ©Ansel Adams and his estate
Please Support The Phoblographer
We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.