Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams, 1902–84, American photographer, b. San Francisco. He began taking photographs in the High Sierra and Yosemite Valley, with which his name is permanently associated, becoming professional in 1930. That year he published the first of many books of his photographs, Taos Pueblo. With Edward Weston and others he founded the Group f/64 in reaction to the painterly photographic aesthetic then current. He specialized in characteristic regional landscape, particularly of the Southwest, and worked to emphasize the conservation of nature. In addition to heroic vistas of the American wilderness, he also made smaller and more intimate images of such landscape elements as trees, rocks, driftwood, and grasses.

Adams wrote numerous technical manuals, including the classic Basic Photo-Books series, and helped to found photographic art departments at New York City's Museum of Modern Art (the first such department) and at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His book Born Free and Equal (1944) was an effort to aid Japanese Americans incarcerated in "relocation camps" during World War II. In 1946 he established the first college department of photography at the California School of Fine Art. Adams also published the first superb portfolio reproductions of his own and others' photographs. His work has become known to a wide audience through the many books, posters, and calendars that have featured his photographs.

See aperture monograph (1972); M. S. Alinder and A. G. Stillman, ed., Ansel Adams: Letters and Images, 1916–1984 (1988); J. Szarkowski, Ansel Adams at 100 (2001).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Celebrating 100 Years of Ansel Adams
Fox, Stephen.
Sierra, Vol. 87, No. 1, January-February 2002
Five Fires: Race, Catastrophe, and the Shaping of California
David Wyatt.
Addison-Wesley, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Ansel Adams begins on p. 121
Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalists
Keir B. Sterling; Richard P. Harmond; George A. Cevasco; Lorne F. Hammond.
Greenwood Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Adams, Ansel Easton" begins on p. 6
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