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Ansel Adams: An Autobiography Paperback – February 1, 1996
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"Rough-edged...witty and candid...A direct line to Adams' thoughts and ideas."―Los Angeles Times
"An evocative celebration of the life, career, friendships, concerns, and vision of an ardent environmentalist and pioneering artist who captured the rich natural beauty of America through the lens of his camera."―New York Times
"A warm, discursive, and salty document"―New Yorker
About the Author
In a career that spanned over six decades, Ansel Adams was at once America's foremost landscape photographer and one of its most ardent environmentalists. A master photographer, teacher and naturalist, the profound impact of his work continues to expand as each generation discovers the magnificent, luminous beauty of his art.
Mary Street Alinder was Executive Assistant to Ansel Adams from 1979 to 1989 and worked with Ansel Adams on many of his books during that time. She is co-editor of Ansel Adams: Letters and Images (NYGS, 1988
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Ansel Adams poured his soul into writing this book and after reading it I better appreciate his beautiful and awe inspiring photography. Adams was a masterful photographer and a lifelong conservationist. Born in 1902, he grew up in San Francisco as an only child. By age 12 he loved playing piano and developed an interest in photography while also enjoying exploring the outdoors and taking long walks. He left formal schooling after grade eight. Although he spent a large part of his career in commercial photography, he is popular for his landscape photography.
In the 1920s Adams was spending a lot of time in the Sierra Nevada, hiking, exploring, and taking photographs, where he befriended leaders of the Sierra Club and became involved with the conservation movement. During his time at Yosemite, he met his future wife Virginia and they were married in 1928 and had two children. In the early years of marriage he juggled two professions, music and photography and talks at length about his decision to pursue his photography career. Besides his chapters describing Yosemite, and other National Parks, I especially enjoyed the chapters he dedicated to describing his relationships with a diverse group of friends and artists such as Alfred Steiglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, David McAlpin, Beaumont Newhall, Edward Weston, Edwin Land , etc. Besides spending a majority of his time out West, he also includes stories of time spent in New York City and the east coast. He led an interesting life. This 385 page oversize book (9"x10"), is an easy read filled with glossy black and white photos with every turn of the page. If you love his photography, you'll want to have a copy of this book in your library.
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. Everyone has faults so there is really no reason to enumerate them in print unless you are attempting to make yourself feel better by highlighting the faults of others.
I would strongly recommend this book for anyone who appreciates photography, history, and the arts, as well as those that would like to gain a better understanding of a very creative photographer. Of all the books about, or by, Ansel Adams that I have read, this is the one book that I would put at the top of the required reading list. It is also one of the best books about the modern history of photography I have read to date. I really cannot recommend it strongly enough.