Adams, Ansel Easton (1902–1984) By Slipp, Naomi
Ansel Adams is known for his technically precise, large format photographs of the American western landscape. Self-taught, his father gave him a camera on a 1916 family trip to Yosemite National Park. One year later, he joined the Sierra Club. His life-long environmental activism led to the federal protection of Yosemite. Adams took one of his most famous photographs, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, in 1941 while photographing national parks for the Department of the Interior. Adams’s early solo exhibitions include the Smithsonian Institution in 1931, followed by a 1936 exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s New York gallery, An American Place. Co-founder of f/64, a group dedicated to straight photography, which eschewed manipulation in favour of objectivity, Adams established the Zone System, a method of teaching photographic exposure for precise tonal range. He also authored articles and guides, including Making a Photograph in 1935, and co-founded the photography magazine Aperture in 1952. Creator of the photography department at the California School of Fine Arts and co-founder of the Centre for Creative Photography, Adams was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980 and died in Monterey, California in 1984.