Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams was born in 1902 and died in 1984. Adams was a photographer and is often considered one of the founders of establishing photography as an art form. Photography was not necessarily considered an art form until Adams brought to life various scenes and subjects that was exposed through black-and-white photos. The notion that photographs were no less artistic than paintings was something he continually battled.

From an early age, Adams took to exploring nature and being outside. He was not a particularly good student and was a somewhat sickly child. If he wasn't actually sick he had hypochondriac tendencies and managed to believe he had one illness or another. Adam's became interested in playing the piano at age 12. He spent his entire youth and well into his 20's exploring music as a career path. As a result of being such an accomplished pianist, it was quite a change when he decided to dedicate himself to photography as a career choice. It was a bit of a late start for him yet it was prompted by the extensive time he spent in Yosemite Park. It was after his first visit to the park in 1916 with his family that prompted the change in the course of his life.

Not only was it Adam's first exposure to Yosemite Park that led him to explore the arena of photography, but it was he continual visiting and capturing of photos of the park that led to him meeting his wife. Best Studios was the first studio to print and sell Adam's photos. It was the daughter of the Best Studios owner, Virginia that captured Adams heart though. They were married in 1928 and later had two children.

At the time Adams started studying seriously about photography charcoal drawings were a popular medium of expression. For this reason, when developing film Adams first used a technique called "soft-focus" negatives so that the photos looked like charcoal drawings. However, as time progressed, Adams embraced a fine-tuned focus so as to showcase the finer details of the subjects of the photographs. From the beginning Adams only produced black and white photos. Although Adams moved away from the "soft-focus" technique, he stayed steadfast with only black and white negatives throughout his career.

Adams also remained steadfast with using large format cameras. These are cameras that require more set-up time and are heavier, larger, and more costly to operate. He remained with these cameras because he desired to remain faithful to what he considered "pure" photography. For this reason, he was also a partner in the creation of f/64, a formal photography association intended to promote "pure" photography. It was named as such because 64 was the lowest aperture that could be achieved on a camera. Aperture is the hole through which light travels allowing for the capture of an image on film.

Adams first portfolio was hugely successful. It led to more work from those who bought his first portfolio. As Adams matured, so did his photos. Some of Adams most well-known work can be found in the book Illustrated Guide to Yosemite Valley. This book was a collaborative effort with his wife. In 1940, Adams put together a photography show titled A Pageant of Photography. To date, this is still the largest and most widely visited photography show.