This installment of American Masters looks back at the life and work of renowned American landscape photographer, Ansel Adams, who remains best known for his black and white photos of beautiful sceneries. We all like to dabble on landscape photography every now and then, so read on to learn more about the iconic landscape photographer after the jump!
Ansel Easton Adams was the only child of upper-class couple Charles Hitchcock Adams and Olive Bray Adams, born on February 20, 1902 and named after his uncle. As a child, he was full of energy but was frequently ill and prone to hypochondria. Despite having few friends, the young Ansel had enough childhood activities in his family home and its surroundings. He also started being curious about nature at a young age, collecting bugs and exploring the waterways and coastlines of San Francisco. The young Ansel also shared and enjoyed amateur astronomy as a hobby with his father, who bought a three-inch telescope and took him to Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton.
Perhaps unknown to many, Ansel taught himself how to play the piano when he was 12. Around the time, Ansel had just been dismissed from schools for his inattentiveness and restlessness. Music became his main interest later in his youth, which propelled him to take piano lessons in place of formal education. While Ansel eventually gave up his plan to make a profession out of music, the piano was instrumental in giving him discipline, structure, and substance to his restless and frustrating youth.
Ansel received his first camera, a Kodak Brownie box camera, from his father during a visit to the Yosemite National Park in 1916 with his family. There, he took his first photographs. On his first view of the valley, he said: “the splendor of Yosemite burst upon us and it was glorious… One wonder after another descended upon us… There was light everywhere… A new era began for me.”
Later, he learned basic darkroom technique while he worked part-time for a photo finisher in San Francisco. He also frequently read photography magazines, went to camera club meetings, and visited art and photography exhibits. By then, he was a photography master in the making, and the rest, as they say, was history.
Ansel Adams eventually became a well-known and respected name in photography for his poignant monochromatic snaps, some of the best ones you can see below:
If you feel the need to be further inspired by the celebrated American photography master, head over to Lessons from Photography Masters: Ansel Adams for some words of wisdom, then Mimicking the Masters: Ansel Adams to see how you can get great landscapes a la Adams!
All information for this article were sourced from Ansel Adams on Wikipedia.