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 Weston 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.
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 co-founded the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in 1975.
[Center for Creative Photography / University of Arizona]