Ansel Adams

By: Alena Murphy

Birth & Death

Ansel was born February 20th, 1902 in San Francisco, California and died April 22nd, 1984 in Monterey, California at the age of 82.


Because of his fathers wealth, Ansel attended both public and private schools during his academic career. He only received an eighth grade education due to the fact that the after shock of an earthquake left him with a broken and crooked nose which caused Ansel to be self conscious.
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His father was Charles Hitchcock Adams and his mother was Olive Bray Adams. He was an only child. His parent came from New England and migrated from north of Ireland during the 18th century. His father was a successful businessman. His father owned a chemical factory and an insurance company.

How He Got Into Photography

Ansel became interested in the outdoors at a very young age. With the banking crisis of 1907 his family slowly began to lose their privileged way of living. Ansel then got into music by teaching himself how to play piano. He was even more interested in learning about photography. He took his first set of photos in 1916 when his family visited Yosemite National Park. Photography became his main hobby. He eventually got a job as a photo technician and that improved his skills and his career took off.

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Style Of Photography & Trademark

Ansel's style of photography is scenic landscapes. He is known for his black and white landscape photographs.

How He Became Famous

Ansel had his first photograph published in 1921. This brought attention to him and the next year Best's Studios began to sell the photographs Ansel took at Yosemite National Park. Ansel also had some of his photos published in limited edition collections.
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Hasselblad Award- 1981

Sierra Club John Muir Award- 1963

Presidential Medal of Freedom- 1980

Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts- 1946

His Own Critique

"My photographs have now reached a stage when they are worthy of the world's critical examination. I have suddenly come upon a new style which I believe will place my work equal to anything of its kind." said April 1927

“Everything I have done or felt has been in some way influenced by the impact of the natural scene”

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Others Critique

"Throughout his life Ansel remained ambivalent about color photography - a sampling of his reflections on the subject is included at the end of this book. Much of his antipathy toward color stemmed from the extremely poor quality of color photographing. Another source of his frustration was the inability to adequately translate the brilliance of a color transparency into a fine print."
-Foreward by John P. Schaefer and Andrea G. Stillman

My Appreciation Of His Work

I love that his known photographs are black and white, especially the landscapes. I feel like landscapes are known to show the color of the area being photographed but Ansel show the structure of the land instead.
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