Photographer Research

Ansel Adams

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“I hope that my work will encourage self-expression in others and stimulate the search for beauty & creative excitement in the great world around us.

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Biography

Ansel Adam was born Feb 20, 1920, and he died on April 22, 1984. Ansel Adams was a photographer and an environmentalist. He was born in San Francisco, California. He was the son of Charles Hitchcock Adams, a businessman, and Olive Bray. The grandson of a wealthy timber baron, Adams grew up in a house set amid the sand dunes of the Golden Gate. When Adams was only four, an aftershock of the great earthquake and fire of 1906 threw him to the ground and badly broke his nose, distinctly marking him for life.

A year later the family fortune collapsed in the financial panic of 1907, and Adams’s father spent the rest of his life doggedly but fruitlessly attempting to recoup. Adams was a hyperactive and sickly child with few friends. Dismissed from several schools for bad behavior, he was educated by private tutors and members of his family from the age of 12.

Adams taught himself the piano, which would become his early passion. In 1916, following a trip to Yosemite National Park, he also began experimenting with photography. He learned darkroom techniques and read photography magazines, attended camera club meetings, and went to photography and art exhibits. He developed and sold his early photographs at Best’s Studio in Yosemite Valley.

Adams’ professional breakthrough followed the publication of his first portfolio, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, which included his famous image “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome.” The portfolio was a success, leading to a number of commercial assignments.

Between 1929 and 1942, Adams’ work and reputation developed. Adams expanded his repertoire, focusing on detailed close-ups as well as large forms, from mountains to factories. He spent time in New Mexico with artists including Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe and Paul Strand. He began to publish essays and instructional books on photography.

During this period, Adams joined photographers Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans in their commitment to affecting social and political change through art. Adams’ first cause was the protection of wilderness areas, including Yosemite. After the internment of Japanese people during World War II, Adams photographed life in the camps for a photo essay on wartime injustice.

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Aspens, New Mexico ( Horizontal), 1958 [Silver Gelatin Print]

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Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California, 1937 [Gelatin Silver]
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Siesta Lake, Yosemite National Park, California, 1958 [Gelatin Silver]
 

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