Ansel Easton Adams, born in 1902 in San Francisco, USA, to Charles and Olive Adams. At the age of twelve, it was obvious that school is not the place for Ansel, the confinement imposed by the classroom and teachers, was a lot more than he could stand, you can say that it was above his threshold. This caused him to deliberately burst in laughter repeatedly in the classroom in an attempt to perhaps undermine the authority that teachers have in the classroom. The repetition of these bursts of laughter and the undisguised contempt for the inept ramblings of his teachers, as one biographer put it, caused the end of his formal education years. The next best thing in such situations is home-schooling, and this was exactly what was ahead for little Ansel, algebra, English classics and Greek were materials that he was taught at home.
In studying Mr. Adams education, one might observe no relation what so ever with Photography, this true, but was went on during these years, had a great influence on him, he was taught to appreciate the nature that surrounded him, and it is this appreciation that fueled his passion that was explicitly shown in photography, and above that, Ansel, had the chance to attend Panama-Pacific International Exposition, in celebration of opening of the Panama canal, offered him many sources for information, and this exposition was considered by many to be the learning ground for little Ansel. Also, he studied photography with a photofinisher, where he developed his first pictures. The artistic side of Ansel was nourished during the long years of piano lessons, that Ansel himself, thought to be a good choice for his career, and it remained so for a long time, even after he started photography. This fact could not be overlooked, even if piano can not be related to photography, like painting, but learning piano caused his artistic senses to grow, and this growth means that these senses needed constant nourishment, this nourishment came later in the form of photography.
During a family vacation in Yosemite national park, Ansel parents gave a gift, a Kodak Box Brownie. Ansel finally had a tool to record the fabulous scenes that surrounded him, a process that he would carry on throughout his life. This is considered to be the launch of Ansel the photographer, from the first few pictures, he was hooked. Ansels work was quickly noticed; in 1920 he was given the position of the Custodian of Yosemites Leconte Memorial. After getting married in 1929, Ansel was still hanging between the two career choices, piano or photography. A great influence on Ansels choice was Paul Strand, a brilliant photographer, and by then a new friend of Ansel. The wonderful work of Strand had a decisive effect on Ansels choice of careers; he was to become a professional photographer. a short wile after, he joined many other brilliant photographers, the likes of Edward Weston, Jon Paul Edwards, Willard Van Dyke and man others to form the f/64, a group dedicated to photography that looks like photography, not like an imitation of another art form.
This group embodies the concepts of Ansel Adams, and this is what was so distinctive about his work. The realization of photographic vision through technically flawless prints was an approach that Ansel took in photography. But this did not stop experimentation that led him to the use of several large-formats and miniature cameras. to shed some light on the work of Adams, I should point out that he was deeply effected by the nature, especially by the Yosemite valley, and the four hundred mile long mountain range, called Sierra Nevada, where he kept coming back every summer, where he practiced climbing or just took long trips in which a great deal of photography was involved. During these summers, he developed an interest in conservation and was dedicated to record the splendid beauty of these valleys and mountain ranges. So the prominent factor in Ansels work was his love of nature, and the second factor was photography itself. Meeting Alfred Steiglitz, another brilliant photographer widely renowned at the time, rooted Ansels believes in what art, and especially photography should be, he once said: Steiglitz taught me what became my first commandment: Art is the affirmation of life. Ansels goal wasnt just to produce beautiful prints, but to be able to report the beauty that he saw with painstaking and crystalline clarity. In order to do this, he developed his skills in making the finished picture look exactly as what he saw and what the picture should be. It is this effort to make the picture look exactly as it is intended to, that distinguishes Ansels work from other Photographers work.
Working in the commercial field is inevitable, as any photographer would know, it helps pay he rent at least. He shot photos of everything, from raisin bread to glassware to bathrobes for Christmas catalogues. Even though it was not his favorite work, Ansel produced very powerful pictures during that time. He established a work relationship with Dorothea Lange, a great photographer of that time. They collaborated on several magazines pictorials for Fortune and vogue. At the outbreak of the war in, he was commissioned to illustrate and record the lives of the Nisei, American-born Japanese descent who were interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Camp. The piece was called Born Free and Equal and it comprised photos of the camp and a text written by Ansel himself. Ansel held many expositions, in November 1936, he mounted an exhibition at the An American Place that was owned by Steiglitz, but his first was held in 1931 at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, and in the same year his work was exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution. He also published many portfolios, Portfolio 1: In Memory of Alfred Steiglitz was the first, and was followed by Portfolio 2: The National Parks and Monuments, and afterwards Portfolio 3: The Yosemite Valley. He also published many books on photography and its techniques, the most prominent is the Basic Photo series, and another is Making a photograph. He also lectured courses in photography at the Museum Of Modern Art.
On a personal level, I have lost any interest in nature landscape scenes a long time ago. I firmly believe that nature is something of a great intensity that needs to be experienced first hand in order to really capture the essence of it, to me nature is not just the trees and the mountains, nature is the scents, the gentle breeze against your face, the chills that run down your spine when you hear the distant calling of some wild animal, and this can never be captured in a photograph. With this mentality I set out to start this research, knowing that I might not be impressed, well, I was wrong. Ansels work was far from being just a photograph; it is a devotion to the nature scenes in the wilderness that he so much loved and the fact that he only took pictures of a few selected places, tells us just that. Ansel loved the nature where he took his photographs, and it is this love that made his pictures so brilliantly beautiful.
I am a guy that likes to learn about the mechanics and the inner workings of everything I lay my eyes on, not just not just machines and lifeless materials, but also people and other forms of life, and I strongly believe that it is by knowing the inner workings of what surround you, you reach a higher level of interaction with the world. This is exactly what Ansel did; his main goal was to understand photography and how it works, and how to use photography to convey what he is seeing exactly. Not only that, he also had a deep understanding of nature and a respect for natural surroundings that he became a conservationist. This understanding of photography and nature, gave Ansel the ability to capture the intensity of nature scenes in such details that can rarely be seen in black and white, and this intensity is that adds magic to his photographs.
I think the world is really lucky that Ansel Adams did not choose to become a piano player, and instead chose to become a professional photographer, and I hope that more talents will be inspired by his work and devotion.