“At one with the power of the American landscape, and renowned for the patient skill and timeless beauty of his work, photographer Ansel Adams has been visionary in his efforts to preserve this country’s wild and scenic areas, both on film and on earth.” Jimmy Carter presenting Ansel Adams with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco. He hated the regimentation of his education and was taken out of school and given a season pass by his father to visit the Panama-Pacific Exposition. In1916 he visited the Yosemite National Park for the first time and took his first photographs there using his father’s box Brownie camera. He was to visit the park every year for the rest of his life. He initially wanted to become a concert pianist but opted to follow a career in photography instead.
The first photograph that captured the attention of critics and public alike was ‘Monolith, the Face of Half Dome’ (1927). He travelled through New Mexico and California taking photographs throughout his life. In 1930 he met Paul Strand in Taos Pueblo and was inspired to devote his life to photography. In 1932 he was of the founding members of Group f/64and took part in a one-man exhibition at the De Young
Museum. By 1937 his landscape photographs were being exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As well as travelling extensively, he also taught photography. In the 1940s he developed his Zone System technique of exposure and development control while teaching at the Art Centre School in Los Angeles.
Throughout his lifetime Adams took an active role in environmental issues, including standing as Director of the Sierra Club in California from 1934to 1971 and President of the Trustees for Conservation from 1956 to 1957.His photographs were exhibited in almost every major museum in the United States. He won many awards during his career and wrote over thirty books on photography.