Ansel Adams and the Beginning of My Art

My son-in-law gave me a book of 400 Ansel Adams photographs a couple years ago. Ansel is another of my heroes.

The book is organized chronologically, and the first chapter shows photographs Ansel took when on vacation with his family in his teens. Almost without exception, they are quite ordinary and pedestrian, showing none of the unique vision that would define his future career. (Did you know he almost because a professional concert pianist instead?)

When I first got a 35mm camera from my parents for high school graduation in 1971, I was eager to experiment and dive deep into this new form of expression. And like Ansel, my early photographs are nothing to write home about.

Here’s one taken in that first year – just a few days after receiving the camera. Having played around with the 50mm lens, I discovered the value of depth of field and of selecting a focal point that popped a shot.

Playing around with this new ability the camera afforded me, I snapped this shot of an amaryllis growing in the front yard. This is a poor quality can from a much more colorful slide. I should redo those early scans sometime.

But, you get the idea of the shot as I tried my hand at photographic self-expression while establishing my own artistic vision.

Now, some of you may say this is far better than any of my later work from the following 50 years. Perhaps you are right!