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Ansel Adams Biography – Life of Americas Most Famous Black-and-White Photographer

Ansel Adams was an environmentalist and photographer, who created a different approach towards black-and-white photography, clicking the American Wild West. His photographic skills rewarded him with many life time and posthumous awards, and a few awards named for him, and entered him into the California Hall of fame.


Ansel Adams Biography - Early Life

Ansel Easton Adams, was born in San Francisco, California, on February 20, 1902, to an upper class family. As a child, Adams was frequently sick with hypochondria. During the devastating San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906, Adams was thrown face first into the ground, which broke his nose, and Adams lived with his crooked nose throughout his life.Upon receiving education till eighth grade, Adams was homeschooled as he preferred to learn through his interests, especially music and piano. His career as a photographer started with clicking nature and wild life at Yosemite, and being friends with the amateur photographer Cedric Wright, who later became his mentor.Ansel Adams received the Doctor of Arts degree from Harvard and Yale University later in life.

Ansel Adams Photography - Black and White Creativity

Adams started clicking photographs at the Yosemite National Park, when he was sixteen. He became a photography enthusiast and visited camera clubs and photography exhibits. He worked part-time for a photofinisher and learned basic darkroom techniques. While exploring the wilderness in the Sierra Nevada for the Sierra club, Adams created fantastic images. The first Ansel Adams photography exhibition was held at M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco.Ansel Adams’ first portfolio is the Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, which included his famous image Monolith, the Face of Half Dome. By 1930, Adams started writing publications on photography. With the encouragement from the famous photographer Paul Strand, Adams switched to harder photography treatments called “straight photography”. His works were mainly intended to bring the beauty of the untouched and unaffected wilderness of the nature.Ansel Adams invented the zone system of photography, and pioneered the idea of visualization called previsualization. Ansel Adams photography showed careful compositions and sensitivity towards tonal balance.

Ansel Adams Yosemite - Beginning of a Career

In 1916, Adams’ family trip to Yosemite National Park marked the beginning of his photography career. Upon receiving a Kodak box camera from his father, Adams took his first amateur photos. The following year, he returned to Yosemite alone, with more cameras and a tripod. At the age of 17, Adams joined the Sierra club, taking part in activities preserving nature and acted as a summer caretaker in the camp activities at the Yosemite Valley.Adams was highly influenced by the splendor of Yosemite and became friends with the Best family, the owners of the Best Studio at Yosemite. He even married Virginia Best, the owner’s daughter, in 1928. Best Studio sold his Yosemite prints in the year 1921. The splendid photographical images of Ansel Adams, created a new Ansel Adams Yosemite.Photo source: public domain

Written by Nelly Kendrick

One Response to Ansel Adams Biography – Life of Americas Most Famous Black-and-White Photographer

  1. claire said
    You say that Adams is born in 1902, but takes his first pictures in Yosemite in 1916 when he was 16. That does not make sense, he would have been 14 in 1916.

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