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Ansel Adams: An Autobiography Paperback – February 1, 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An accomplished musician, ardent conservationist, master photographer and teacher, Ansel Adams (19021984) made a major cultural contribution to the American nation, which awarded him the Medal of Freedom. This life story describes his boyhood discovery of California's Yosemite and High Sierra, a land he loved and photographed the remainder of his life. He traces the development of his esthetic beliefs and technical style, including the widely emulated Adams "zone system" of scenic composition and exposure. A chapter on his early efforts offers one of the best definitions yet articulated about photography as art. There are lively accounts of his acquaintance in conservation work with several U.S. presidents, and of relationships he had with photographer colleaguesStieglitz, Steichen, Weston, Georgia O'Keeffe, Nancy and Beaumont Newhall, Paul Strand, Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, Edwin Land and others. The 270 illustrations here include personal shots of family, friends and wilderness high jinks, as well as many Adams masterworks like "Yosemite Half-Dome" and "Moonrise, Hernandez." BOMC featured alternate. October
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Adams's commitment to the serious study of photography lasted from 1930 until his death in 1984. He influenced hundreds of photographers through ex hibitions, books, and workshops. His work for the Sierra Club (photographic and otherwise) brought national recog nition. His autobiography moves from family reminiscences to his experiences with Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Dorothea Lange, the Newhalls, Geor gia O'Keefe, Steiglitz, and Steichen, giving Adams's perspective on devel opments in the visual arts. It portrays a deeply felt concern with both craft and aesthetics, and a lifelong dedication to preserving the glory of the Western en vironment. No library with any sort of collection in photography should be without this book. Illustrations not seen. J.R. Mosler, Hackettstown P.L., N.J.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Ansel Adams (February 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821222414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821222416
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984) was the most honored American photographer of the twentieth century. Through his exhibitions and publication of his work, his writings, and his leadership in the Sierra Club, Adams was also a prescient and highly effective voice in the fight to preserve America's remaining wilderness.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While this book is about Ansel Adams, it is also about the struggle to make photography a recognized form of art. If you have any interest at all about the non-technical history of photography, I would highly recommend this book.

There is much more here than just the thoughts and ideas of one man. Each of the people that influenced Adams are described in detail, and in doing so, Adams provides a much needed background for the modern history of photography. Adams was fortunate enough to be able to work with a diverse and creative group of people at a time when the art world was expanding into new mediums. He worked with many now-famous photographers, painters, philanthropists, and institutions, and his experiences with them give the reader a very strong base from which to asses these very important ideas and movements. In reading this book, I was able to greatly improve the depth of my understanding of photography as art, as well as improve my understanding of the contributions of a number of other photographers. I was both inspired and encouraged by reading how much hard work and unending effort these photographers went through to ensure that photography would be recognized as an art form.

Another poster questioned whether Adams worked with the content of this book to cast himself in the best light. While this is quite possible, what is included does no so much focus on Ansel Adams the man as it does on his main goal in life, making photography a recognized art form. Everyone has personal issues to some degree, and I am sure that Ansel, being human, was no exception. But those problems are just that, personal, and would be tangental to what Ansel saw as the focus of his life.
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, the reproductions of Adams' photographs in the hardcover edition are excellent. The text is designed to relate to the photos, directly or indirectly, without distracting too much from the photos. Adams does tend to lean towards the philosophical towards the end of some chapters, perhaps with a well-founded basis.
However, I think it is fair to say that Adams has "visualized" himself in a stylized and abstract manner, not unlike his photographs of the wilderness, cropping any rough edges of his life and ultimately contributing to (even propagating?) the myth surrounding his life.
After reading his autobiography, I am now looking forward to reading his biography, written by Mary Street Alinder, his editor in the present effort. I hope that she reveals some of the driving tensions and flaws in his life, much in the same way James Gleick filled in the more sombre details of Richard Feynman's life that he glossed over in his autobiographies.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the only books I have ever read where I limited myself to three pages of text a night; it was so good, I wanted to savor it as long as possible.

The photos speak for themselves; far beyond what words can express, some of these images capture the deepest truths about the American landscape.

Ansel is a good writer and a great thinker. His love for nature and music is profound, and reading of his many successful battles for the preservation of some of the world's finest places makes you just love the guy.

Whatever personal details may be missing are more than compensated for by the endless beauty within these pages. I would read three pages and then spend half an hour just falling into two or three photos. Adams' eye for light and composition and meaning is incomparable. These photos are sensual delights, with deep love attached.

Ansel also inspired me to spend serious time in Big Sur and Yosemite; for that I will always love him, and especially for his tireless work in protecting both of these most amazing of places.

What a special man.

If you can, get the first edition hardcover, it's well worth the extra bucks. The prints are as good as any fine art book you've ever seen. Later editions and the paperback are excellent, but are a step down from the first edition. You'll revisit this book many times and want to pass it on to your kids; get the best version you can.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an aspiring photography this is a great read. I was unaware of all of the environmental works Adams performed and the struggles he endured to make photography a recognized art form. I found that the last page of most chapters provided some of the most insight from Adams, and perhaps the editor formed the back that way. Hearing his philosophies on life and the various people he admired and appreciated (Albert Bender) was enjoyable to read. What seemed to be a glaring omission, or maybe not, was discussion about his family. There is almost no mention of his children and I think no mention of his feelings for them or his wife. Maybe the intent of the book was to focus on photography.
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Format: Hardcover
Unlike most books on photography or photographers, this focuses more on the thoughts and relationships of Adams rather than an actual narrative of his life. The result is unexpected enlightenment: the core of the man including his attitudes, politics, and relationships. The reader also finds that he is drawn to focus on his own insights on feelings, attitudes, and creative essence. It is very easy to come a point where one attains the feeling he actually knows Adams although relatively little is actually stated in straight terms about him.
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