Quotes by Ansel Adams

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We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through fabric of illusion. Many refuse to admit it: I feel a mystery exists. There are certain times, when, as on the whisper of the wind, there comes a clear and quiet realization that there is indeed a presence in the world, a nonhuman entity that is not necessarily inhuman. more...

Art is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light of the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. more...

I know that I am one with beauty and that my comrades are one. Let our souls be mountains, Let our spirits be stars, Let our hearts be worlds. more...

I know the importance of highly trained awareness of the "moment" and the immediate and intuitive response of the photographer. It should be obvious to all that photographers whose images possess character and quality have attained them only by continued practice and total dedication to the medium. more...

If you have enough craft, you've done your homework and you're practiced. You can then make the photograph you desire. more...

We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through fabric of illusion. more...

I believe in beauty. I believe in stones and water, air and soil, people and their future and their fate. more...

You don't make a photograph just with a camera more...

I believe photography is a tool to express our positive assessment of the world. A tool to acquire ultimate happiness and belief. more...

I don't know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is. more...

The best picture is around the corner. Like prosperity. more...

Impression is not enough. Design, style, technique - these, too, are not enough. Art must reach further than impression or self-revelation . more...

I never know in advance what I will photograph,...I Go Out into the World and Hope I Will come across something that Imperatively interests me. I Am Addicted to the Found object. I have No doubt that I Will Continue to make Photographs till my last Breath. more...

You don't take a picture, you make a picture. more...

Knowing what I know now, any photographer worth his salt could make some beautiful things with pinhole cameras. more...

I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful - an endless prospect of magic and wonder. more...

The disciples are drawn to the high altars with magnetic certainty, knowing that a great Presence hovers over the ranges ... You were within the portals of the temple ... to enter the wilderness and seek, in the primal patterns of nature, a magical union with beauty. more...

...one sees differently with color photography than black-and-white... in short, visualization must be modified by the specific nature of the equipment and materials being used. more...

We who are gathered here may represent a particular delete, not of money and power, but of concern for the earth for the earth's sake. more...

Art is both the taking and giving of beauty; the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these. more...

The quality of place, the reaction to immediate contact with earth and growing things that have a fugal relationship with mountains and sky, is essential to the integrity of our existence on this planet. more...

Photograph not only what you see but also what you feel. more...

We were in the shadow of the mountains, the light was cool and quiet and no wind was stirring. The aspen trunks were slightly greenish and the leaves were a vibrant yellow. more...

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

Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution. more...

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

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. more...

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. more...

A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words. more...

Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art. more...

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

No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit. more...

Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter. more...

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

You don't take a photograph, you make it. more...

Myths and creeds are heroic struggles to comprehend the truth in the world. more...

Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop. more...

Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs. more...

Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit. more...

Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. more...

The negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways. more...

To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things. more...

In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration. more...

A good photograph is knowing where to stand. more...

A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed. more...

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. more...

A photograph is usually looked at - seldom looked into. more...

There are worlds of experience beyond the world of the aggressive man, beyond history, and beyond science. The moods and qualities of nature and the revelations of great art are equally difficult to define; we can grasp them only in the depths of our perceptive spirit. more...

The only things in my life that compatibly exists with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit. more...

These people live again in print as intensely as when their images were captured on old dry plates of sixty years ago... I am walking in their alleys, standing in their rooms and sheds and workshops, looking in and out of their windows. Any they in turn seem to be aware of me. more...

Some photographers take reality... and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation. more...

We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium. more...

It is my intention to present - through the medium of photography - intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to the spectators. more...

I tried to keep both arts alive, but the camera won. I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can! more...

The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance. more...

In my mind's eye, I visualize how a particular... sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice. more...

When I'm ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I'm interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without. more...

Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships. more...

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. more...

I have often had a retrospective vision where everything in my past life seems to fall with significance into logical sequence. more...

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. more...

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. more...

As the fisherman depends upon the rivers, lakes and seas and the farmer upon the land for his existence, so does mankind in general depend upon the beauty of the world about him for his spiritual and emotional existence. more...

All art is a vision penetrating the illusions of reality, and photography is one form of this vision and revelation. more...

We all know the tragedy of the dustbowls, the cruel unforgivable erosions of the soil, the depletion of fish or game, and the shrinking of the noble forests. And we know that such catastrophes shrivel the spirit of the people... The wilderness is pushed back, man is everywhere. Solitude, so vital to the individual man, is almost nowhere. more...

In a strict sense photography can never be abstract, for the camera is incapable of synthetic integration. more...

I usually have an immediate recognition of the potential image, and I have found that too much concern about matters such as conventional composition may take the edge off the first inclusive reaction. more...

Ask yourself, 'Why am I seeing and feeling this? How am I growing? What am I learning?' Remember: Every coincidence is potentially meaningful. more...

I have often had a retrospective vision where everything in my past life seems to fall with significance into logical sequence. Intuition, suspicion, or confidence in new ventures; there is a strange strain within me when advantage is not taken of some situation, the immediacy of recognition of the rightness or wrongness of a mood, a response, a decision - they are so often valid that I am increasingly convinced that we have yet to grasp the reality of existence. more...

I am probably afraid that some spectator will not understand my photography - therefore I proceed to make it really less understandable by writing defensibly about it. more...

Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. I know of no sculpture, painting or music that exceeds the compelling spiritual command of the soaring shape of granite cliff and dome, of patina of light on rock and forest, and of the thunder and whispering of the falling, flowing waters. At first the colossal aspect may dominate; then we perceive and respond to the delicate and persuasive complex of nature. more...

I expect to retire to a fine-grained heaven where the temperatures are always consistent, where the images slide before one's eyes in a continual cascade of form and meaning. more...

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. more...

To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces. more...

With all art expression, when something is seen, it is a vivid experience, sudden, compelling, and inevitable. more...

The camera cannot, but the photographer can. more...

The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster. more...

One of the most important pieces of equipment, for the photographer who really wants to improve, is a great big wastepaper basket. more...

I am sure the next step will be the electronic image, and I hope I shall live to see it. I trust that the creative eye will continue to function, whatever technological innovations may develop. more...

It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument. more...

The skies and land are so enormous, and the detail so precise and exquisite that wherever you are you are isolated in a glowing world between the macro and the micro. more...

I believe the approach of the artist and the approach of the environmentalist are fairly close in that both are, to a rather impressive degree, concerned with the affirmation of life. more...

I eagerly await new concepts and processes. I believe that the electronic image will be the next major advance. Such systems will have their own inherent and inescapable structural characteristics, and the artist and functional practitioner will again strive to comprehend and control them. more...

For me the future of the image is going to be in electronic form ... You will see perfectly beautiful images on an electronic screen. And Id say that would be very handsome. They would be almost as close as the best reproductions. more...

The great rocks of Yosemite, expressing qualities of timeless yet intimate grandeur, are the most compelling formations of their kind. We should not casually pass them by, for they are the very heart of the earth speaking to us. more...

The 'machine-gun' approach to photography - by which many negatives are made with the hope that one will be good - is fatal to serious results. more...

My last word s that it all depends on what you visualize. more...

Emphasis on technique is justified only so far as it will simplify and clarify the statement of the photographer's concept. more...

I can look at a fine art photograph and sometimes I can hear music. more...

It is increasingly clear to me that my art relates more and more to a sublimation of my closeness to the natural world, it's events, light itself, and the positive it is a personal expression based on observation and reaction, that I am not able to define except in terms of the work itself. more...

This profession [photography] is deserving of attention and respect equal to that accorded painting, literature, music and architecture. more...

My wife - she could help me get the negs out! more...

To visualize an image (in whole or in part) is to see clearly in the mind prior to exposure, a continuous projection from composing the image through the final print. more...

I can't verbalize the internal meaning of pictures whatsoever. Some of my friends can at very mystical levels, but I prefer to say that, if I feel something strongly, I would make a photograph, that would be the equivalent of what I saw and felt. more...

The piano has eighty-eight keys, and you have to be able to play all of them. And the range of white to black is analogous to the eighty-eight keys and you have to be able to play all eighty-eight keys in that palette from white to black. more...

All I can do in my writing is to stimulate a certain amount of thought, clarify some technical facts and date my work. But when I preach sharpness, brilliancy, scale, etc., I am just mouthing words, because no words can really describe those terms and qualities it takes the actual print to say, "here it is. more...

The (photographic) negative is the equivalent of the composers score and the print is the equivalent of the conductors performance. more...

Once destroyed, nature's beauty cannot be repurchased at any price more...

Photography is an austere and blazing poetry of the real. more...

Notebook. No photographer should be without one! more...

I hope that my work will encourage self expression in others and stimulate the search for beauty and creative excitement in the great world around us. more...

I have often thought that if photography were difficult in the true sense of the term-meaning that the creation of a simple photograph would entail as much time and effort as the production of a good watercolor or etching-there would be a vast improvement in total output. The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster. more...

I knew my destiny when I first experienced Yosemite. more...

It is just as important to bring people the evidence of the beauty of the world of nature and of man as it is to give them a document of ugliness, squalor, and despair. more...

"Simply look with perceptive eyes at the world about you, and trust to your own reactions and convictions. Ask yourself: "Does this subject move me to feel, think and dream? Can I visualize a print - my own personal statement of what I feel and want to convey - from the subject before me?"" more...

The technique of 35mm photography appears simple. One is beguiled by the quick viewing and operation, and by the very questionable inclination to make many pictures with the hope that some will be good. more...

The craft of photography is the key to good images. more...

Image quality is not the product of a machine, but of the person who directs the machine, and there are no limits to imagination and expression. more...

Black and white photography is truly quite a 'departure from reality', and the transition from one aspect of visual magic to another was not as complete as many imagine. more...

To the vast majority of people a photograph is an image of something within their direct experience: a more-or-less factual reality. It is difficult for them to realize that the photograph can be the source of experience, as well as the reflection of spiritual awareness of the world and of self. more...

Bad weather makes for good photography. more...

I know some photographs that are extraodrinary in their power and conviction, but it is difficult in photography to overcome the superficial power or subject; the concept and statement must be quite convincing in themselves to win over a dramatic and compelling subject situation. more...

The term accessories has come to include a host of photographic gadgets of questionable value... more...

A photograph is not an accident - it is a concept. more...

The negative is the score, and the print the performance. more...

A photograph is not an accident - is a concept. It exists at, or before, the moment of exposure of the negative. more...

We make images to "honor what is greater and more interesting than we are." more...

A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels. more...

No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied - it speaks in silence to the very core of your being. more...

We either have wild places or we don't. We admit the spiritual-emotional validity of wild, beautiful places or we don't. We have a philosophy of simplicity of experience in these wild places or we don't. We admit an almost religious devotion to the clean exposition of the wild, natural earth or we don't. more...

Photography is an investigation of both the outer and the inner worlds. The first experiences with the camera involve looking at the world beyond the lens, trusting the instrument will 'capture' something 'seen.' The terms shoot and take are not accidental; they represent an attitude of conquest and appropriation. Only when the photographer grows into perception and creative impulse does the term make define a condition of empathy between the external and the internal events. more...

How high your awareness level is determines how much meaning you get from your world. Photography can teach you to improve your awareness level. more...

All art is the expression of one and the same thing- the relation of the spirit of man to the spirit of other men and to the world. more...

I'm interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without. more...

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. more...

It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breathe it, let the sun bake into you. more...

Today, we must realize that nature is revealed in the simplest meadow, wood lot, marsh, stream, or tidepool, as well as in the remote grandeur of our parks and wilderness areas. more...

I respect everything in change and the solemn beauty of life and death... and therefore, while man is amidst the immense beauty of objective bodies, he must possess the capacity of self-perfection and must observe and represent his world with full confidence. more...

Let us leave a splendid legacy for our children...let us turn to them and say, this you inherit: guard it well, for it is far more precious than money...and once destroyed, nature's beauty cannot be repurchased at any price. more...

It is easy to take a photograph, but it is harder to make a masterpiece in photography than in any other art medium. more...

I am always surprised when I see several cameras, a gaggle on lenses, filters, meters, et cetera, rattling around in a soft bag with a complement of refuse and dust. Sometimes the professional is the worst offender! more...

Wilderness is rapidly becoming one of those aspects of the American dream which is more of the past than of the present. Wilderness is not only a condition of nature, but a state of mind and mood and heart. It cannot be confined to the museum-case status-seen only as a passing diorama from superlative throughways. more...

Wilderness is rapidly becoming one of those aspects of the American dream which is more of the past than of the present. Wilderness is not only a condition of nature, but a state of mind and mood and heart. It cannot be confined to the museum-case status-seen only as a passing diorama from superlative throughways. more...

The herculean task of a photographer is to capture a momentary frame as beautiful in reality, as it would be in a dream. more...

If what I see in my mind excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. more...

At one with the power of the American landscape, and renowned for the patient skill and timeless beauty of his work, photographer Ansel Adams has been visionary in his efforts to preserve this country's wild and scenic areas, both in film and on Earth. Drawn to the beauty of nature's monuments, he is regarded by environmentalists as a monument himself, and by photographers as a national institution. It is through his foresight and fortitude that so much of America has been saved for future Americans. more...

While the photos at the D.M.V. (New York) will still be taken in color, the engraving is done in grayscale, hence the Ansel Adams feel. more...

The next time you pick up a camera think of it not as an inflexible and automated robot, but as a flexible instrument which you must understand to properly use. An electronic and optical miracle creates nothing on its own! Whatever beauty and excitement it can represent exist in your mind and spirit to begin with. more...

The "machine-gun" approach to photography - by which many negatives are made with the hope that one will be good - is fatal to serious results. more...

I'm interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without. more...

The dismal half-baked images of the average "reportage" and "documentary" photography are self dammning... the slick manner, the slightly obscure significance, the esoteric fear of simple beauty for its own sake - I am deeply concerned with these manifestations of decay. Gene Smith's work validates my most vigorous convictions that if the documentary photographs is to be truly effective it must contain elements of art, intensity, fine craft and spirituality. All these his work contains and we may turn to his work with gratitude, appreciation and great respect. more...

The [35mm] camera is for life and for people, the swift and intense moments of life. more...

I've always thought photography was an art form, but it had very low appreciation in the beginning, except for some Europeans, and of course Stieglitz. Stieglitz always considered photography to be an art form and is the "father" of the creative concepts of the twentieth century. more...

I do not think there is any question of photography being an art form! more...

There still is some opposition to it in some museums and art schools, but I think photography has really grown into a mature art form. more...

I think we can not categorize. Things do not fit into a mold. more...

Photography and photographers have an inevitable development. They progress more or less by steps. Every five or ten years some new point of view is developed and young people are inclined to follow it. more...

Now there is a big turnover in the galleries. The top galleries are getting better all the time. A lot of galleries just struggle along, then a new one comes along. There are certainly a great number of galleries. I think this argues well for the art but there are, of course, a lot of "phonies" in all the arts. more...

I think photography is being recognized and collected. Its values have certainly gone up and continue to go up. more...

Photographers and artists contribute a lot to the world and have a right to exist in relative security and comfort. more...

Photography has escalated almost exponentially! It is a language which covers almost every aspect of communication; factual and expressive. more...

The photo-journalist and the photo-poet are both important. The problem is to separate the major objectives of the various groups and not to attribute qualities and intentions where they do not belong. more...

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

I have often thought that if photography were difficult in the true sense of the term - meaning that the creation of a simple photograph would entail as much time and effort as the production of a good watercolor or etching - there would be a vast improvement in total output. The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster. more...

There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept. more...

For me the future of the image is going to be in electronic form... You will see perfectly beautiful images on an electronic screen. And I'd say that would be very handsome. They would be almost as close as the best reproductions. more...

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. more...

The only things in my life that compatibly exist with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit. more...

It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breathe it, let the sun bake into you. The skies and the lands are so enormous, and the detail so precise and exquisite that wherever you are you are isolated into a glowing world between the macro and the micro, where everything is sidewise under you and over you, and the clocks stopped long ago. more...

The artist and the photographer seek the mysteries and the adventure of experience in nature. more...


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