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Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams was born Feb. 20 1902. He is best known for his black and white photography of the American West, especially photos taken in Yosemite National Park. (Does anyone know where that is?)
Adams's photographs are reproduced on calendars, posters, and in books, making his photographs widely popular.
Adams was born in San Francisco to a wealthy family who came from New England before emigrating from Northern Ireland (Does anyone know what “emigrate” means?)
In 1906 there was a huge earthquake that rocked SF. Little Ansel Adams was thrown from his bed and onto the floor where he broke his nose. He never had his nose fixed and it remained crooked his whole life.
After the death of Ansel’s grandfather, their family lost a lot of money. Ansel was kicked out of many private schools for his hypreactiveness and for not paying attention. His family decided at the age of 12 to pull him from school and teach him at home. He was taught by his aunt and father.
His father raised him to follow the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson: to live a modest, moral life guided by a social responsibility to man and to nature. Adams had a warm, loving and supportive relationship with his father, but had a distant relationship with his mother, who did not approve of his interest in photography.
Adams took piano lessons and had a photographic memory which helped him immensely learn the piano (Does anyone know what that means?) By the time he was 18, he has planned on making the piano his career.
In 1916 his family took a trip to Yosemite National Park (Does anyone know where that is?) and his father gave him his first camera which Ansel used with great enthusiasm.
At age 17, Adams joined the Sierra Club, a group dedicated to preserving the natural world's wonders and resources, and he was hired as the summer caretaker of the Sierra Club visitor center in Yosemite Valley

He became friend with a man named Edward Carpenter who was one of the first supporters of gay rights and thought that everyone in life should look for beauty in life and art. Ansel carried around his book with him and really believed in his teachings. It soon became his personal philosophy as well, as Adams later stated, "I believe in beauty. I believe in stones and water, air and soil, people and their future and their fate”. He decided that the purpose of his art from now on, whether photography or music, was to reveal that beauty to others and to inspire them to the same calling. Basically he wanted everyone to see his photographs and make them feel like they should always look for the best in everyone and everything.


His photographs began to get attention and photography groups which he joined and learned a lot from about how to best develop his pictures. Until that time he was still using his parent’s basement and basic equiptment to do his work.
He became friends with very famous natural artists like Georgia O’Keefe and Paul Strand who taught Ansel to use glossy paper to better show off his photos. Strand was very important is making photography popular as a form of art.
He printed many photographs and wrote about his experiences in many magazines and books. “Illustrated Guide to Yosemite Valley” is one of the most popular books. In 1941, just before WWII he took one his most famous photographs of the moon called “Moonrise, Hernandez, NM”
In 1980 Adams received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for "his efforts to preserve this country's wild and scenic areas, both on film and on earth.” (Do you know who was president in 1980?)

Adams's black-and-white photographs of the West which became the most famous record of what many of the National Parks were like before tourism, and his persistent advocacy helped expand the National Park system.

Adams was often criticized for not including humans in his photographs and for representing an idealized wilderness that no longer exists. However, it is in large part thanks to Adams that these pristine areas have been protected for years to come.

Ansel Adams was a dedicated artist-activist. He played a huge role in the growth of an environmental movement in the U.S. His photographs continue to inspire the artist and conservationist alike.



In September 1983, Adams was confined to his bed for four weeks after leg surgery to remove a cancer. Adams died on April 22, 1984, at the age of 82 from a heart attack. He was survived by his wife, two children and five grandchildren.


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