This is a beta version of NNDB
Search: for

Ansel Adams

Ansel AdamsAKA Ansel Easton Adams

Born: 20-Feb-1902
Birthplace: San Francisco, CA [1]
Died: 22-Apr-1984
Location of death: Carmel, CA
Cause of death: Heart Failure [2]
Remains: Buried (ashes scattered on Mt. Ansel Adams, California)

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Photographer
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Yosemite photographer

When nature photographer Ansel Adams was four years old, he broke his nose in a fall caused by aftershocks of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He was an only child and had a solitary upbringing, teaching himself to play the piano and taking frequent walks in the woods alone. At 13 his parents bought him a season pass to the sprawling Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, and let him withdraw from school to attend the fair virtually every day of its 9 month run. At 15 he began working at a photo-finishing business, and at 16 he received his first camera, a Kodak "Box Brownie", as a gift from his parents. In 1916, at his persistent urging, he and his parents vacationed at Yosemite Park, where Adams returned every year for the rest of his life.

He joined the Sierra Club in 1919, and developed his passion for nature photography while working as a janitor and handyman at the group's LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite Valley. His first published photograph was in a 1922 edition of the Sierra Club's Bulletin, and his first exhibit was at the Club's San Francisco headquarters in 1928. In 1932 Adams and photographer Willard Van Dyke founded Group f/64, an informal congregate of photographers that proved influential in popularizing a modern aesthetic in photography, and in 1933 he opened his own gallery in San Francisco. In the same year he met with the photographer he admired most, Alfred Stieglitz, who became a belated mentor. In 1935 Adams had a modest success with his book Making a Photograph, but he continued to work as a commercial photographer to make ends meet, with clients including AT&T, IBM, and Kodak. In 1941, working with photographer Fred Archer, he developed the Zone system, a technique for calculating optimal film exposure and development, a methodology still widely used by professional photographers. He wrote ten books on the technical challenges of photography, and founded the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in 1975.

He was also an activist for environmental awareness before such perspectives came into vogue. In 1965 he was named an environmental advisor to President Lyndon B. Johnson, and in 1980 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter, who spoke of Adams' "efforts to preserve this country's wild and scenic areas, both on film and on earth."

[1] 114 Maple Street, San Francisco, CA.

[2] Heart failure aggravated by pancreatic cancer.

Father: Charles Hitchcock Adams (businessman, b. 25-May-1868, d. 8-Aug-1951)
Mother: Olive Bray Adams (b. 21-Dec-1862, m. 1896, d. 22-Mar-1950)
Wife: Virginia Rose Best Adams (b. 18-Jan-1904, m. 2-Jan-1928, d. 29-Jan-2000, two children)
Son: Michael Adams (b. 1-Aug-1933)
Daughter: Anne Adams (b. 8-Mar-1935)
Mistress: Patsy English (darkroom assistant, affair late 1930s)

    High School: Mrs. Kate M. Wilkins Private School, San Francisco (1917)
San Francisco Art Institute

    Sierra Club Board of Directors (1934-71)
    Sierra Club 1919
    Wilderness Society
    Society for Photographic Education
    Esalen Speaker
    Museum of Modern Art Co-Founder of Photography Dept:1940
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1966
    Friends of Photography Founder:1967
    Polaroid Consultant (1949-)
    Guggenheim Fellowship 1946
    John Muir Award 1963
    Conservation Service Award 1968
    Presidential Medal of Freedom 1980
    Hasselblad Gold Medal Award 1981
    Commander of the Order of the Arts and Letters 1982
    International Photography Hall of Fame 1984
    Kentucky Colonel
    Heart Bypass Operation triple (14-Feb-1979)
    Open Heart Surgery valve replacement (14-Feb-1979)
    Irish Ancestry Paternal
    Risk Factors: Gout, Depression, Pancreatic Cancer, Pacemaker

Official Website:

Author of books:
Taos Pueblo (1930, photography; with Mary Austin)
Making a Photograph (1935, nonfiction)
This is the American Earth (1960, photography, with Nancy Newhall)
Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail (1938, photography)
Michael and Anne in Yosemite Valley (1941, photography)
Born Free and Equal (1944, photography)
Illustrated Guide to Yosemite Valley (1946, photography)
Camera and Lens (1948, non-fiction)
The Negative (1948, non-fiction)
Yosemite and the High Sierra (1948, photography)
The Print (1950, non-fiction)
My Camera in Yosemite Valley (1950, photography)
My Camera in the National Parks (1960, photography)
Natural Light Photography (1952, photography)
Death Valley (1954, photography)
Mission San Xavier del Bac (1954, photography)
The Pageant of History in Northern California (1954, photography)
Artificial Light Photography (1956, photography)
The Islands of Hawaii (1958, photography)
Yosemite Valley (1959, photography)
Death Valley and the Creek Called Furnace (1962, photography)
These We Inherit: The Parklands of America (1962, photography)
Polaroid Land Camera Photography Manual (1963, non-fiction)
An Introduction to Hawaii (1964, photography)
Fiat Lux: The University of California (1967, photography)
The Tetons and the Yellowstone (1970, photography)
Ansel Adams (1972, photography)
Singular Images (1974, photography)
Ansel Adams: Images 1923-1974 (1974, photography)
Photographs of the Southwest (1976, photography)
The Portfolios of Ansel Adams (1977, photography)
Polaroid Land Photography (1978, photography)
Yosemite and the Range of Light (1979, photography)
Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs (1983, photography)
Ansel Adams: An Autobiography (1985, memoir, posthumous)
Ansel Adams: Classic Images (1985, posthumous)

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #3649p (37, 1942 photo of Teton Range, issued 13-Jun-2002)

Create a map starting with Ansel Adams
Requires Flash 7+ and Javascript.

Do you know something we don't?
Submit a correction or make a comment about this profile

Copyright ©2019 Soylent Communications