Sunday, 2018-09-02

Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs by Ansel Adams

I enjoyed this book immensely. Adam’s photographs are so well-known as to be worn smooth of all meaning, elevated to vacuous “fine art”, but reading Adam’s descriptions of how they were made, what he was thinking, what eventual mistakes he made et cetera humanizes them and brings them down to a plane where we mere mortals can begin to think: “I could make that”.

This is of course why Adams is known all over the English-speaking (well, American) world as “the greatest photographer ever”. His career as a teacher, coupled with a subject matter dear to the ideal idea of America, as well as his undeniable rigor as a developer of technique, has ensured that.

But sometimes, reading these stories, you glimpse nostalgia for a youthful life of clambering around Yosemite with glass-plate negatives in his rucksack, and the entire future of celebrity, hard work, and backbreaking labor in the darkroom in blissful unawareness.