Ansel Adams: Artist Biography, Facts, Trivia, & More About This Legendary Photographer

By | February 18, 2021

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Photographer Ansel Adams stands on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean. He adjusts the settings on his camera. (Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS/VCG via Getty Images)

Even if the name Ansel Adams doesn't sound familiar, you have no doubt seen some of his work. The American landscape photographer was famous for his dramatic black-and-white images of the country's majestic national parks, most notably Yosemite, which he used to advocate for the preservation of such wild lands in addition to showcasing the beauty of the American West.

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Close-up of leaves In Glacier National Park (1942). (National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons)

Photography Wasn't Adams's First Passion

Ansel Adams was born February 20, 1902 in San Francisco and shortly thereafter proved to be a terrible student. In fact, he was so bad at school that his father withdrew him in frustration at age 12, which would be catastrophic under normal circumstances but allowed Adams to flourish under his own tutelage. He read books on natural history and took up the piano, devoting long hours to practice until he became such an accomplished musician that he was labeled "gifted" by composer Henry Cowell.