I chose this picture of Ansel Adams because you can see his crooked nose—he was rarely photographed from this angle for that very reason. It was broken as a boy during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. It’s so appropriate that the earth would shake and put its mark on him, because he would later photograph the earth and put his profound mark on the photographic world.
When I was young, Ansel Adams was famous for being the cuddly bear of a man on Grape Nuts TV commercials. But that was the older Ansel Adams. The young Ansel Adams was a wild, mountain-man artist. He would pack his cumbersome view camera and ten glass plates on the back of a donkey and disappear into the mountains for days—returning with photographic history.
I love that he was willing to put a number on how many pictures should make you happy. Ansel Adams says twelve. So stop beating up on yourself for taking bad photographs. You have his permission to continue doing that.
So try to get one photograph you love every month. If you do that, you are flying in rarified air. —Nick Kelshphoto by Jim Alinder
Ansel Adams (1902-1984) was an American photographer famous for photographing the American West. He pioneered The Zone System; a method for exposing and processing film to produce extraordinary tones and detail in his black and white photographs. When he was young, he made a pilgrimage to New York City to present his porfolio to Alfred Steiglitz, then considered to be the reigning figure in the photographic art world. Steiglitz slowly and silently looked at every print, put them down, and said “These are the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen.”