Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams, an American environmentalist and photographer, was born in the Western Addition of San Francisco, California in 1902, on 12th February to an upper class family. In his childhood he was very active but due to his frequent illness and hypochondria, he would always play at home. After his grandfather’s death in 1907, his father financially collapsed and their luxurious lifestyle destroyed completely by 1912. He was homeschooled by his father and aunt. But he was a self learned man. At the age of 12, he himself learned piano. Later his interest for photography grew and he started his career in 1916, by making a trip to the National Park. Soon, he became a full time professional photographer. His important works published under the title of Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras (1927) and the other with a written text of Mary Austen, Taos Pueblo (1930).

In 1932, his one-man show was organized in San Francisco at the M.H deYoung Memorial Museum after which he founded Ansel Adams Gallery where he taught Arts and photography besides working on advertising assignments. In 1937, after moving to Yosemite Valley, he published The John Muir Trail in1938, Illustrated Guide to Yosemite Valley in 1940, Yosemite and the High Sierra in 1948, and My Camera in Yosemite Valley in1949. His famous photograph The Tetons and the Snake River is the finest image among115 photographs of Voyager Golden Record, the photographs that would provide rich information about geographic locations, civilization, humans, nature and plants.

Ansel Adams and his fellow photographers Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston together established Group f/64. Later they also created Museum of Modern art, a department of photography. He, with Fred Archer, created Zone System, a technique for fine film exposure.

In 1979 he published his book ‘Yosemite and the Range of Light’ Two hundred thousands copies of his book were sold across the world. He devoted his life in photography and in 1985, in his autobiography he has written “The only things…that compatibly exist in this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit.”

Finally in 1983, he was in bed and died from a heart attack at the age of 82 in Carmel, California.

Awards and recognitions:

He was honored with doctorate degree in arts by Yale and Harvard University.

In 1963, he received Sierra Club John Muir Award. In 1968, Department of Interior honored him with Conservation service Award. And in 1980, received Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor

Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography was established in 1971by The Sierra Club and in 1980 by The Wilderness Society


In my mind’s eye, I visualize how a particular… sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice.

A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.

I tried to keep both arts alive, but the camera won. I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can!

In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.
No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.

Some photographers take reality… and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation.

The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.