Ansel Adams

born San Francisco, CA 1902-died Monterey, CA 1984
Also known as
  • Ansel Easton Adams
San Francisco, California, United States
Monterey, California, United States
Active in
  • Carmel, California, United States

One of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century, Adams spent a significant part of his adult life in Yosemite National Park. Born in San Francisco and trained as a musician, by 1920 he had begun making trips into the High Sierra; in 1924 he made his first important photographs there and began to publish both images and writings. Adams's work in both media contributed greatly to the American conservationist movement.

By the mid-1930s, Adams had abandoned an earlier Pictorialist style in favor of the clean, sharp focus vision of Group f/64. Along with Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, and Willard Van Dyke, Adams was a founding member of this group, dedicated to "a simple and direct presentation [of] purely photographic means." Adams's work, in particular, is characterized by meticulous technique and dramatic celebration of the natural world.

Merry A. Foresta American Photographs: The First Century (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996)


This is a landscape panting of mountains in New Mexico.
Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities
September 25, 2008January 4, 2009
Sunlight deserts, Taos churches, and Western skies are captured in the remarkable work of two iconic American artists.

Related Books

The Land Through a Lens: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
A prolific landscape record evolved as soon as cameras and equipment could be reliably used outdoors. Most nineteenth-century photographers worked on government-sponsored surveys. Others helped to lure investors westward with the images they made along the routes of the railroads. At the same time, Americans were hanging framed images by such photographic artists as Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge on their parlor walls. Photographs of unspoiled national treasures such as those by Ansel Adams exerted considerable influence on the federal government’s efforts to create national parks. Modern and contemporary photographers have recorded their impressions of both man’s and nature’s impact on the land, from Robert Dawson’s images of polluted waterways to Emmet Gowin’s views of the aftermath of Mount St. Helens’s spectacular eruption.