Remembering Ansel Adams on His Birthday

“Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution. “

—Ansel Adams

Ansel Easton Adams, born February 20, 1902, was one of the greatest photographers of the 20th Century. Famous for his black and white landscape photographs of the American West, reproductions can be seen world-wide.  Today, many photographers travel to the same locations where he photographed to capture their own rendition of the beautiful landscapes. Adams developed the Zone System along with Fred Archer, a necessary technique when shooting film that in today’s digital world might not be known. Adams and Willard Van Dyke  founded Group f/64, known for their unique style of of shooting at a great depth of field for very sharp exposures.  His time spent in New Mexico was when he began to publish books on photography and spent time with other artists in the region, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O Keeffe, and Paul Strand. In 1952 Aperture magazine was founded by Adams and other fine art photographers including Dorothea Lange. The mission of the publication was to view photographs as a fine art.  Today it is an international quarterly publication featuring both established and emerging photographers as well as artists experimenting with photo-related media.

In addition to his photographic accomplishments, he was a self taught pianist, writer, educator, and environmentalist. His involvement in the Sierra Club started early on, where his first works were published in the Sierra Club Bulletin. In 1934 he joined the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club and maintained this role for 37 years. In 1968 he was awarded the Conservation Service Award, the most prestigious honor of the Sierra Club.  Other honors he received include the Hasselblad Award (1981), honorary Artium Doctor degree from Harvard University, honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Yale University, and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

Watch An enlightening and absorbing portrait of Ansel Adams in action. Intimate and warm hearted, the video captures Adams’ spirit and artistry as he talks about his life and demonstrates the techniques which have made his work legendary.

© The Ansel Adams Gallery




  1. Happy birthday ,Ansel,and in your honor I will shoot some film today!
    Happy “Zone System” shooting everyone!
    Wayne S.

  2. Thank you for posting this blog. It was magical to watch Ansel and to hear him talk about the way he felt about photography.

  3. What an awesome post and way to remember one of the greats!


  5. Thank you, sir!
    Your books disappeared in a move, but I have the memories.
    I have realized you created an image I greatly enjoy. in the year of my birth, 1942. I will buy a print!

  6. Ansel Adams was a force of nature, without doubt. He was an inspiration for any serious photographer and those of us who follow in his footsteps, however feebly, strive again and again to find the vision that was so naturally his. I am proud of a note I got back in the mail from Mr. Adams in the early 1970s when I alerted him to the way surplus paperback books – included Sierra Club books- were being disposed of in the trash at college bookstores instead of being recycled and reducing demand for old growth forest products. While I wouldn’t say we were entirely successful, we have achieved protection for thousands of acres of forest that would have been logged had we done nothing. It just goes to show every little bit helps and each of us can play a role in reducing the pressure on the natural world. Thanks again, Mr. Adams, for your note which you sent with a proof of one of your latest photographs.

  7. Happy Birth Day Ansel, from one of your students. Missing you and California.

    Hope you are enjoying the view, from where you are.

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