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Photographic History: Ansel Adams


This 2002 PBS documentary by well known American documentary filmmaker and writer Ric Burns offers an elegant portrait of Ansel Adams –  the pioneering photographer and environmentalist whose work made millions of Americans aware of the beauty of their own land and is considered one of the founding fathers of modern photography.

Here are a few words about Adamas from the text which goes along with the documentary:

Ansel Adams first encountered the awesome majesty of Yosemite Valley as a teenager in 1916. This youthful awakening to the sublime nature of the wilderness signified the start of Adams’s mission to utilize the power of photography to reveal mankind’s place in the natural world. His work vividly depicted the beauty and fragility of the American earth, the inseparable bond of man and nature and our moral obligation to respect the land for the benefit of future generations. In his later years, Adams was one of the most recognized photographers in the world, eliciting the kind of popular response afforded to very few others in his profession. He unashamedly took advantage of his popularity to raise public awareness of the wilderness and the importance of the environment. As well as charting his dramatic accomplishments as an artist, the film provides intimate glimpses into Adams’s private life, especially his fluctuating courtship of Virginia Best, who would eventually become his wife and mother of his two children. Almost thirty years after his death, Adams’s legacy and influence on American culture remain undiminished.

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