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ANSEL ADAMS


[1902 - 1984] American landscape photographer

All I can do in my writing is to stimulate a certain amount of thought, clarify some technical facts and date my work. But when I preach sharpness, brilliancy, scale, etc., I am just mouthing words, because no words can really describe those terms and qualities it takes the actual print to say, "here it is." - Ansel Adams

Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs. - Ansel Adams

You don't take a photograph, you make it. - Ansel Adams

I know some photographs that are extraodrinary in their power and conviction, but it is difficult in photography to overcome the superficial power or subject; the concept and statement must be quite convincing in themselves to win over a dramatic and compelling subject situation. - Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams : An Autobiography by Ansel Adams, Mary Street Alinder (Contributor) , ISBN: 0821222414
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There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. - Ansel Adams

Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment. - Ansel Adams, Photographing Nature: LIFE Library of Photography by Time-Life (Editor)

We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium. - Ansel Adams, Photographers on Photographers (Aperture Vol 151) by Helen Levitt, Gordon Parks, Eikoh Hosoe , ISBN: 0893817732
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Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop. - Ansel Adams

Simply look with perceptive eyes at the world about you, and trust to your own reactions and convictions. Ask yourself: "Does this subject move me to feel, think and dream? Can I visualize a print - my own personal statement of what I feel and want to convey - from the subject before me? - Ansel Adams, The Best of Popular Photography by Harvey V. Fondiller , ISBN: 0871650371 , Page: 280
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Myths and creeds are heroic struggles to comprehend the truth in the world. - Ansel Adams

I am probably afraid that some spectator will not understand my photography - therefore I proceed to make it really less understandable by writing defensibly about it. - Ansel Adams

In my mind's eye, I visualize how a particular . . . sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice. - Ansel Adams

A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety. - Ansel Adams, Photographers on Photography : A Critical Anthology by Nathan Lyons (Editor) , Page: 29
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In some photographs the essence of light and space dominate; in others, the substance of rock and wood, and the luminous insistence of growing things...It is my intention to present-through the medium of photography-intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to spectators... - Ansel Adams

A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed. - Ansel Adams

A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words. - Ansel Adams

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration. - Ansel Adams

When I'm ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I'm interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without. - Ansel Adams

Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art. - Ansel Adams

There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept. - Ansel Adams

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. - Ansel Adams

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

Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter. - Ansel Adams

A good photograph is knowing where to stand. - Ansel Adams

Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships! - Ansel Adams

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silent. - Ansel Adams

Some photographers take reality...and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation. - Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams: Photographs by Wings Books

Those people live again in print as intensely as when their images were captured on the old dry plates of sixty years ago . . . I am walking in their alleys, standing in their rooms and sheds and workshops, looking in and out of their windows. And they in turn seem to be aware of me. - Ansel Adams - from preface of Jacob A. Riis: Photographer & Citizen (1947), Jacob A Riis : Photographer & Citizen by Alexander, Sr. Alland
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I have often thought that if photography were difficult in the true sense of the term -meaning that the creation of a simple photograph would entail as much time and effort as the production of a good watercolor or etching - there would be a vast improvement in total output. The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster. - Ansel Adams - "A Personal Credo," in American Annual of Photography, vol. 58 (1944; repr. in Photographers on Photography, ed. By Nathan Lyons, 1966), Photographers on Photography : A Critical Anthology by Nathan Lyons (Editor)
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I respect everything in change and the solomn beauty of life and death. I believe man will obtain freedom of spirit of society, and therefore while man amidst the emence beauty of objective bodies, he must possess the capacity of self perfection and must observe and represent his world with full confidence. I believe photography is a tool to express our positive assessment of the world. A tool to acquire ultimate happiness and belief. - Ansel Adams

I tried to keep both arts alive, but the camera won. I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can! - Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams: Photographs by Wings Books

Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and the wonder surrounding him. - Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams: Photographs by Wings Books

In some [photographs] the essence of light and space dominate; in others, the substance of rock and wood, and the luminous insistence of growing things....It is my intention to present-through the medium of photography-intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to spectators... - Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams: Photographs by Wings Books

There are worlds of experience beyond the world of the aggressive man, beyond history, and beyond science. The moods and qualities of nature and the revelations of great art are equally difficult to define; we can grasp them only in the depths of our perceptive spirit. - Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams: Photographs by Wings Books

The dismal half-baked images of the average "reportage" and "documentary" photography are self dammning... the slick manner, the slightly obscure significance, the esoteric fear of simple beauty for its own sake – I am deeply concerned with these manifestations of decay. Gene Smith's work validates my most vigorous convictions that if the documentary photographs is to be truly effective it must contain elements of art, intensity, fine craft and spirituality. All these his work contains and we may turn to his work with gratitude, appreciation and great respect. - Ansel Adams

In a strict sense photography can never be abstract, for the camera is incapable of synthetic integration. - Ansel Adams - He wrote this in 1932

The term accessories has come to include a host of photographic gadgets of questionable value... - Ansel Adams

I am always surprised when I see several cameras, a gaggle on lenses, filters, meters, et cetera, rattling around in a soft bag with a complement of refuse and dust. Sometimes the professional is the worst offender! - Ansel Adams

...A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed, and is, thereby, a true manifestation of what one feels about life in it's entirety. . . I believe in photography as one means of achieving an ultimate happiness and faith.

The quality of place, the reaction to immediate contact with earth and growing things that have a fugal relationship with mountains and sky, is essential to the integrity of our existence on this planet. - Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams : An Autobiography by Ansel Adams, Mary Street Alinder (Contributor) , ISBN: 0821222414

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We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through fabric of illusion. Many refuse to admit it: I feel a mystery exists. There are certain times, when, as on the whisper of the wind, there comes a clear and quiet realisation that there is indeed a presence in the world, a nonhuman entity that is not necessarily inhuman.
My private glimpses of some ideal reality create a lasting mood that that has often been recalled in some of my photographs. . . the subtle change of light across a waterfall moved me as did a singular vista of a far-off mountain under a leaden sky. Others might well have not responded at all. Deep resonances of spirit exist, giving us glimpses of a reality far beyond our general appreciation, and knowledge. . . .no matter how many stars we see in a clear mountain sky, we now know that they are but a minuscule fragment of the total population of suns and planets in the billions of galaxies out there in the incomprehensible void.

The only things in my life that compatibly exist with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit.

I have often had a retrospective vision where everything in my past life seems to fall with significance into logical sequence. Intuition, suspicion, or confidence in new ventures; there is a strange strain within me when advantage is not taken of some situation, the immediacy of recognition of the rightness or wrongness of a mood, a response, a decision - they are so often valid that I am increasingly convinced that we have yet to grasp the reality of existence. - Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams : An Autobiography by Ansel Adams, Mary Street Alinder (Contributor) , ISBN: 0821222414

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To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things. Impression is not enough. Design, style, technique, - these, too, are not enough. Art must reach further than impression or self-revelation. Art, said Alfred Stieglitz, is the affirmation of life. And life, or its eternal evidence is everywhere. Some photographers take reality as the sculptors take wood and stone and upon it impose the dominations of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and elevation. A true photograph need not be explained, nor can be contained in words. - Ansel Adams, Photographers on Photography : A Critical Anthology by Nathan Lyons (Editor) , Page: 32
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A photograph is not an accident – it is a concept. - Ansel Adams

I expect to retire to a fine-grained heaven where the temperatures are always consistent, where the images slide before ones eyes in a continual cascade of form and meaning. - Ansel Adams

I know the importance of highly trained awareness of the "moment" and the immediate and intuitive response of the photographer. It should be obvious to all that photographers whose images possess character and quality have attained them only by continued practice and total dedication to the medium. - Ansel Adams

An art is definable only in its own terms; it is as difficult to write about photography as it is about music, especially from a personal viewpoint. I feel that as one grows older his credo becomes simpler and more direct. Penetrating the smoke screens of equipment and techniques, glamor, ideology, and simple achievementmotive, the art of photography appears as strong and vital – and purposeful – as any other creative medium, and stands cleanly on its own feet. We are confronted today with a dichotomy; as our equipment and materials constantly grow in scope and quality the creative and technical standards appear to be diminishing; there is a near-cult of photographers who seem to intentionally avoid the beautiful and precise image, concentrating only on subject and obvious function. My personal reaction to this attitude is a determination to go as far in the opposite direction as possible. I believe in the most beautiful and appropriate prints, and the most clarifying and revealing approach of mind, heart, and craft. I believe that firm objectives in this directin can fulfill the promis of photography as one of the great visual arts. However, we must always be logical in our critical estimates; most of photography is not intended as art and should ot be judges as such. But if art is intended, compromise must not be tolerated. - Ansel Adams, The Best of Popular Photography by Harvey V. Fondiller , ISBN: 0871650371 , Page: 92-93
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The ‘machine-gun’ approach to photography – by which many negatives are made with the hope that one will be good – is fatal to serious results. - Ansel Adams

A photograph is an instrument of love and revelation that must see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live in all things. - Ansel Adams, 150 Years of Photography , ISBN: 6301264258
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My last word s that it all depends on what you visualize. - Ansel Adams, Master Photographers – The World’s Great Photographers on their Art and Technique , Page: 9

Emphasis on technique is justified only so far as it will simplify and clarify the statement of the photographer's concept. - Ansel Adams

The [35mm] camera is for life and for people, the swift and intense moments of life. - Ansel Adams

Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes and easy smile is your museum. - Ansel Adams

Ask yourself, "Why am I seeing and feeling this? How am I growing? What am I learning?" Remember: Every coincidence is potentially meaningful. How high your awareness level is determines how much meaning you get from your world. Photography can teach you to improve your awareness level. - Ansel Adams

The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster. - Ansel Adams

I can look at a fine art photograph and sometimes I can hear music. - Ansel Adams

Stieglitz would never say that certain objects of the world were more or less beautiful than others-telegraph poles, for instance, compared with oak trees. He would accept them for what they are, and use the most appropriate objects to express his thoughts and convey his vision. - Ansel Adams

There are worlds of experience beyond the world of the aggressive man, beyond history, and beyond science. The moods and qualities of nature and the revelations of great art are equally difficult to define; we can grasp them only in the depths of our perceptive spirit. - Ansel Adams

We don't make a photograph just with a camera, we bring to the act of photography all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard, the people we have loved. - Ansel Adams

Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit. - Ansel Adams

Simply look with perceptive eyes at the world about you, and trust to your own reactions and convictions. Ask yourself: "Does this subject move me to feel, think and dream? Can I visualize a print - my own personal statement of what I feel and want to convey - from the subject before me? - Ansel Adams

The negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways. - Ansel Adams

There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. - Ansel Adams

These people live again in print as intensely as when their images were captured on old dry plates of sixty years ago... I am walking in their alleys, standing in their rooms and sheds and workshops, looking in and out of their windows. Any they in turn seem to be aware of me. - Ansel Adams

Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. - Ansel Adams

To visualize an image (in whole or in part) is to see clearly in the mind prior to exposure, a continuous projection from composing the image through the final print. - Ansel Adams

A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into. - Ansel Adams
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The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance. - Ansel Adams
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My wife - she could help me get the negs out! - Ansel Adams - On being asked which to save first from a burning house - the wife or the negatives...
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A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed. - Ansel Adams
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I hope that my work will encourage self expression in others and stimulate the search for beauty and creative excitement in the great world around us. - Ansel Adams
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Ansel Adams in 1930 had been training to become a concert pianist while considering a career as a photographer. He decided, after seeing the photographs by Paul Strand, that "the camera, not the piano, would shape [his] destiny." His mother and aunt both pleaded, "Do not give up the piano! The camera cannot express the human soul!" To which Adams replied, "The camera cannot, but the photographer can." - Ansel Adams - in "Black & White Magazine for Collector of Fine Photography" October 2000, Page: 76

Notebook. No photographer should be without one! - Ansel Adams

...with most of my photographs, the subject appears as a found object, something discovered, not arranged by me. I usually have an immediate recognition of the potential image, and I have found that too much concern about matters such as conventional composition may take the edge off the first inclusive reaction. - Ansel Adams

(Art) is both the taking and giving of beauty; the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these. - Ansel Adams - in a letter to Cedric Wright

It is increasingly clear to me that my art relates more and more to a sublimation of my closeness to the natural world, it's events, light itself, and the positive... it is a personal expression based on observation and reaction, that I am not able to define except in terms of the work itself. - Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams : An Autobiography by Ansel Adams, Mary Street Alinder (Contributor) , ISBN: 0821222414
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Photography is but one phase of the potential of human expression; all art is the expression of one and the same thing––the relation of the spirit of man to the spirit of other men and to the world. - Ansel Adams - DANGER SIGNALS, PSA Journal, Vol. 14, November 1948; p. 575.

The negative is the score, the print is the performance. - Ansel Adams - revealing his musical background while explaining the importance of his darkroom technique. , 1000 Photo Icons by Anthony Bannon (Foreword), George Eastman House , ISBN: 3822820970 , Page: 644
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This profession [photography] is deserving of attention and respect equal to that accorded painting, literature, music and architecture. - Ansel Adams, The picture history of photography: From the earliest beginnings to the present day by Peter Pollack , ISBN: 0500271011 , Page: 105
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The negative is the score, and the print the performance. - Ansel Adams - [Popular Photography 1/1980, p. 159, “Proof Sheet”

A photograph is not an accident—it is a concept. It exists at, or before, the moment of exposure of the negative. - Ansel Adams

I can't verbalize the internal meaning of pictures whatsoever. Some of my friends can at very mystical levels, but I prefer to say that, if I feel something strongly, I would make a photograph, that would be the equivalent of what I saw and felt. - Ansel Adams

Photography is an investigation of both the outer and the inner worlds. The first experiences with the camera involve looking at the world beyond the lens, trusting the instrument will 'capture' something 'seen.' The terms shoot and take are not accidental; they represent an attitude of conquest and appropriation. Only when the photographer grows into perception and creative impulse does the term make define a condition of empathy between the external and the internal events. - Ansel Adams

I am sure the next step will be the electronic image, and I hope I shall live to see it. I trust that the creative eye will continue to function, whatever technological innovations may develop. - Ansel Adams - 1983
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I can look at a fine art photograph and sometimes I can hear music. - Ansel Adams

The single most important component of a camera is the 12 inches behind it. - Ansel Adams - "“What digital camera" November 2012, (PDEF version), p. 24

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