Ansel Adams (1902-1984), an American photographer and environmentalist, is well-known as a great master of black-and-white photography.

His photos are clear and deep which was a real challenge at the time. He started his career in 1927 having collected the first portfolio. Although his shots are black-and-white, his creative path was bright and rich: Ansel received numerous awards among which a Presidential Medal of Freedom and was inducted to California Hall of Fame. Ansel Adams’ heritage features numerous shots of American landscapes, in particular, Yosemite National Park; it is spread all over the world on a variety of print such as books, posters, calendars – and now also in digital form on the Internet.

Today we offer you a collection of his inspiring quotes on the art of photography.

Photo of Ansel Adams taken by J. Malcolm Greany


You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.


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.


You don’t take a photograph, you make it.


To the complaint, “There are no people in these photographs,” I respond, “There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.”

Evening, McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park (1942)


Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.


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


A photograph is usually looked at- seldom looked into.


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


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


Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes and easy smile is your museum.

In Glacier National Park (1942)


The whole world is, to me, very much “alive” – all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can’t look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life – the things going on – within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.


Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and wonder surrounding him.


There are no forms in nature. Nature is a vast, chaotic collection of shapes. You as an artist create configurations out of chaos. You make a formal statement where there was none to begin with. All art is a combination of an external event and an internal event… I make a photograph to give you the equivalent of what I felt. Equivalent is still the best word.


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

The Tetons and the Snake River (1942)

Ansel Adams online gallery
Ansel Adams on Artsy
Title photo by Annie Spratt

Read more in our collection of black-and-white photography tips and history of stock photography

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