Ansel Adams

[glowing lake and snow-covered mountain in dark landscape]
1947, 1948
Ansel Adams Archive/ Purchase
78.152.6

Famed American photographer Ansel Adams co-founded the Center for Creative Photography in 1975. His was one of five inaugural archives, and it remains a cornerstone of the Center’s fine art and archival collections. Adams’s career spans seven decades and a wide range of subject matter, including portraits, still lifes, architecture, and the landscapes for which he is most famous. Viewers often associate his lifelong environmentalism and advocacy for America’s wilderness places with his dramatic, panoramic photographs that celebrate the redemptive potential of the natural world. Many of his best-known images were made in the American West, including a large group of works made in Yosemite Valley.

Adams first learned about photography and the Sierra Nevada Mountains as a child, on family vacation. His love for the medium and the place grew in tandem, and after his initial 1916 visit, Adams visited Yosemite annually. Originally working in the Pictorialist style, widely popular in the 1910s and 1920s, Adams encountered Paul Strand’s photography in 1930, and rejected his earlier painterly, soft focus style for a new “pure” and sharp focus approach.

In 1932, Adams, Edward and Brett Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, and a handful of other Bay Area photographers came together as Group f/64. They displayed their sharp-focus, modernist style of photography at San Francisco’s DeYoung Museum in an exhibition that stands as a landmark in the history of the medium.

In 1941 Adams was invited by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes to photograph the National Parks and to create large-scale mural prints for the new Washington D.C. Interior building. Adams was delighted at the opportunity, but funding for the project was withdrawn following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of that year, and the large prints were not made. Adams was so invested in the idea of photographing America’s parklands that he applied for the Guggenheim Fellowship to allow further work. He received the grant funding, and expanded the project, creating a book, a portfolio, and many photographs, a body of work that has remained central to his career.

The Ansel Adams Archive at the Center for Creative Photography includes more than 2,500 fine prints, along with correspondence, interviews, unpublished writings, memorabilia, publications, negatives, transparencies, work prints, photographic equipment, and files documenting his commercial projects, exhibitions, affiliation with the Sierra Club and Friends of Photography.

The Center provides digital scans and facilitates permissions in collaboration with The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, which holds copyright to all works by Ansel Adams.

Website images by this artist

[close-up of robust pine cone, smaller end up, nested between narrow eucalyptus leaves]
Ansel Adams, Pine Cone and Eucalyptus Leaves, San Francisco, California, 1932, ca. 1936, 1933. Ansel Adams Archive © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 84.92.192
[pale palmate leaves amid ferns]
Ansel Adams, Leaves, Glacier Bay, Alaska, ca. 1948, ca. 1949. Ansel Adams Archive © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 84.92.216
[solid sheet of ice at top of image, icicles spreading from it, largest one catching light toward left]
Ansel Adams, Icicles, Yosemite, 1935, 1950. Ansel Adams Archive © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 84.91.115
[snow-laden branches in rib-like upcurved pattern]
Ansel Adams, Cedar Trees, Winter, Yosemite Valley, California, ca. 1949, ca. 1960, ca. 1955, ca. 1946. Ansel Adams Archive © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 77.65.8
[glowing lake and snow-covered mountain in dark landscape]
Ansel Adams, Denali and Wonder Lake, Denali National Park, Alaska, 1947, 1948. Ansel Adams Archive/ Purchase © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 78.152.6
Jeffrey Pine, Sentinel Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
Ansel Adams, Jeffrey Pine, Sentinel Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, 1945, 1940. Ansel Adams Archive © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 84.91.156
Maynard Dixon, Painter, Tucson, Arizona
Ansel Adams, Maynard Dixon, Painter, Tucson, Arizona, ca. 1944. Ansel Adams Archive/ Purchase © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 76.89.22
[sitting at desk in office]
Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, An American Place, New York, 1938, ca. 1939, 1944, ca. 1937. Ansel Adams Archive © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 77.11.11
[seen through porch screen, looking at camera, potted geranium at left]
Ansel Adams, Maynard Dixon, Painter, Tucson, Arizona, ca. 1945, ca. 1944. Ansel Adams Archive/ Purchase © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 78.152.85
[power lines, dark mountain, cloudy sky]
Ansel Adams, At Boulder Dam, 1941. Ansel Adams Archive ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 84.90.68
Ansel Adams, Monument Valley, Monuments and Curved Rock, . Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Gift of Arizona Highways magazine S2007.44.86
Ansel Adams, Ruins, . Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Gift of Arizona Highways magazine S2007.44.67
Cemetery Statue and Oil Derricks by Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams, Cemetery Statue and Oil Derricks, Long Beach, California, 1939. Collection Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 76.577.23
Ansel Adams, Oak Tree, Sunset City, Sierra Foothills, California, 1962. Ansel Adams Archive ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust Collection, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona
Ansel Adams, Oak Tree, Sunset City, Sierra Foothills, California, 1962. Ansel Adams Archive ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust Collection, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona
Sumac, Owens Valley, California
Ansel Adams, Sumac, Owens Valley, California, ca.1937. Ansel Adams Archive / Purchase © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 76.83.3
Dead Tree, Dog Lake, Yosemite National Park, California
Ansel Adams, Dead Tree, Dog Lake, Yosemite National Park, California, 1933. Ansel Adams Archive © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 84.91.114
Ansel Adams, Foam, Merced River, Yosemite Valley, California, 1951. Collection Center for Creative Photography ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 76.83.38
Ansel Adams, Interchange, Los Angeles Freeway, 1967. Collection Center for Creative Photography ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 76.83.41
Ansel Adams, Self-Portrait in Victorian Mirror, Atherton, California, 1936. Collection Center for Creative Photography ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 78.152.62
Ansel Adams, Self-Portrait in Victorian Mirror, Atherton, California, 1936. Collection Center for Creative Photography © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust 78.152.62