Filed under: Nature + Travel, Society + Media | Tags: ansel adams, environmental, green, king's river, photography, Sierra Club
Who is the greatest environmental photographer in this history of the environment and photography?
Funny you should ask—considering I just spent my morning researching that exact topic.
Ansel Adams would be your man. I know, I never thought of it before now, either. Until now, I just thought he made pretty outdoor pictures that people put in their offices when they didn’t know much about art.
Now, I know you instantly scanned through your mental environmental photographer Rolodex and picked out your favorite modern environmental photog but I seriously doubt they hold a CFL to Adams’ efforts.
After years of photographing nature, Adams became so inspired that he became a full-blown environmental advocate, according to this essay by Peter Barr. He joined the Sierra Club board of directors, he lobbied congress for environmental aid in King’s River Canyon, and he was assigned to photograph national parks by the Department of Interior (however, this project quickly ended because of WWII). Adams personally met with LBJ, Johnson, Ford, and Carter to discuss environmental policy. He was also awarded the Conservation Service Award by the Interior Department and recieved a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his environmental efforts. Thats what I call a hard-working advocate.
And just look at the man’s stuff:
Ansel Adams. Bridveil Fall. Yosemite, 1967
Waterfall: “I am nature. Hear me roar. RAAGH!”
Ansel Adams. Snake River, Grand Tetons, 1942
Mountain: “I see you eyeing me. I will destroy you. Do not screw with me.
“The photographer showed Americans the beauty of nature. But he also put alot of American problems in perspective.
Ansel Adams. Freeway Interchange, Los Angeles, 1967
This photograph was taken in 1967—an era when a lot of people (aka hippies) were complaining about what was wrong with the world, while driving around in psychadelic buses powered by fossil fuels and love.
It is as if Adams was telling us “Hey guys, take a step back and look at all this progress. Maybe we need to slow down and meditate on this for a while. I mean, check this other picture. Goodness, are those some pretty trees or what?”
You know, come to think of it, I’m going to have to get me an Ansel Adams for my office. Maybe it’ll make me feel like I’m working amidst nature
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