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Quotes of the day: Ansel Adams

Published Thursday, February 19, 2015 @ 10:28 PM EST
Feb 19 2015

Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 - April 22, 1984) was an American photographer and environmentalist. His black-and-white landscape photographs of the American West, especially Yosemite National Park, have been widely reproduced on calendars, posters, and books. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.

A photograph is usually looked at- seldom looked into.

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

For me the future of the image is going to be in electronic form. ... You will see perfectly beautiful images on an electronic screen. And I'd say that would be very handsome. They would be almost as close as the best reproductions.

I eagerly await new concepts and processes. I believe that the electronic image will be the next major advance. Such systems will have their own inherent and inescapable structural characteristics, and the artist and functional practitioner will again strive to comprehend and control them.

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.

I would never apologize for photographing rocks. Rocks can be very beautiful. But, yes, people have asked why I don't put people into my pictures of the natural scene. I respond, 'There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.' That usually doesn't go over at all.

If what I see in my mind excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph.

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own Government to save the environment.

Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer, and often the supreme disappointment.

No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.

No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied- it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.

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

Photography, as a powerful medium... offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.

The herculean task of a photographer is to capture a momentary frame as beautiful in reality, as it would be in a dream.

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

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

The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.

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

To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces.

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.

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.


(February 20 is also the birthday of DeForest Kelley.)

Categories: Ansel Adams, Quotes of the day


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