Photographer Biography – ADAMS, ANSEL

USA, 1902-1984


Adams, Ansel (Feb. 20 1902 – Apr. 22, 1984), photographer and environmentalist, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Charles Hitchcock Adams, a businessman, and Olive Bray.

The grandson of a wealthy timber baron, Adams grew up in a house set amid the sand dunes of the Golden Gate. When Adams was only four, an aftershock of the great earthquake and fire of 1906 threw him to the ground and badly broke his nose, distinctly marking him for life.

A year later the family fortune collapsed in the financial panic of 1907, and Adams’s father spent the rest of his life doggedly but fruitlessly attempting to recoup.

March 1933 was an important time for Adams. It was then that he met the renowned photographer and patron, Alfred Stieglitz, husband of Georgia O’Keefe, owner of An American Place gallery, and a powerful influence on artists of that time. Stieglitz was favorably impressed with the young photographer and his work, and mounted an exhibition for him in November of 1936. Adams wrote in his 1985 autobiography “Steiglitz taught me what became my first commandment: “Art is the affirmation of life.”

In 1979, Adams published his very successful book, Yosemite and the Range of Light, which was to sell over two hundred thousand copies. And in 1980, The Ansel Adams Conservation Award was established by the Wilderness Club, and Adams himself named as the first recipient. The citation read “…Ansel Adams-for your deep devotion to preserving America’s wild lands and to caring that future generations know a part of the work as it has been…”.

These are some of his photos: