Photographer. His photographic images of the American landscape, and especially those of the American West and Yosemite Park, became popular and familiar to millions. Born in San Francisco, California, he was a problem student in school, which may have been caused by dyslexia or a hyperactive condition. When he was twelve, he taught himself to play the piano and read music. Soon he was taking lessons, and the ardent pursuit of music became his substitute for formal schooling. For the next dozen years the piano was Adams's primary occupation and by 1920, his intended profession, although he ultimately gave up music for photography. The 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco delighted him to the extend his parents purchased him a season pass allowing him to visit the extravagance daily which also marked the end of his formal schooling. A family trip to Yosemite in 1916, with a gift of a Brownie Camera, introduced him to the park which would be his mainstay with a photographic pilgrimage each year for the rest of his life. At age seventeen, he joined the Sierra Club, a group dedicated to preserving the natural resources of nature while remaining a member until his death while serving as its director. In 1927, he made his first fully visualized photograph, "Monolith, the Face of Half Dome", in Yosemite while making his first High Trip. His photographs along with his testimony before Congress helped secure the designation of Sequoia and Kings Canyon as a National Park. Adams was the author of numerous books about photography, including technical instruction manuals. He co-founded the photographic association "Group f/64", and invented the zone system, a technique which allows photographers to translate the light they see into specific densities on negatives and paper. He held one man exhibitions in virtually every major American art museum, three Guggenheim Fellowships with his prints appearing in every major publication starting with "Life Magazine". Mount Ansel Adams, a 11,760-foot peak located at the head of the Lyell Fork of the Merced River on the southeast boundary of Yosemite National Park, was officially named on the first anniversary of his death. In 1984, Congress created the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area of more than 100,000 acres between Yosemite National Park and the John Muir Wilderness Area. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, from President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Ansel Adams Day was proclaimed by the California State Legislature in 1983. Also in 1983 at his eightieth birthday celebration, he was presented the Decoration of Commander of the Order of the Arts and Letters, the highest cultural award given by the French government to a foreigner. The Ansel Adams Center in San Francisco opened in 1989, a center for the exhibition and promotion of his work along with that of other photographers. In 1962 he moved to Carmel, California which became the location of both his studio and residence until his death at age 82 during a Monterrey hospital stay from heart failure aggravated by cancer. Following his cremation, his son Michael places his ashes at the summit of what today is Mount Ansel Adams.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield
Virginia Rose Best Adams