Ansel Adams

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Ansel Adams, considered the most important landscape photographer of the 20th century, worked alongside The Wilderness Society for four decades.

This passionate conservationist produced stunning photographs of the beauty he found across the American West. Dedicated to the cause of wilderness, Adams captured America’s wild lands in black and white, focusing on the untamed splendor that our country was at risk of losing.  

Early Life

Born in 1902 in San Francisco, Ansel Adams was struck by the beauty of nature from a young age.  His father nurtured his burgeoning talent for photography and gave him his first camera during a family visit to Yosemite National Park.  A year later, Adams returned to the park by himself to photograph the area.  From that point forward, Adams was a dedicated wilderness photographer and conservationist.

View several of Ansel Adams' photographs below, taken between 1933-1942:


A prolific photographer, Adams created timeless works of art.  Simultaneously, he brought to the public’s attention the dire need for wilderness protection in the U.S. For The Wilderness Society, his work embodies in visual form our belief in the inherent value of the land. It also serves as a call to action that is the consequence of a ethical understanding of humanity's proper place in the tapestry of nature.

During his long career, Adams was also an ardent conservationist, attending meetings with fellow activists and writing hundreds of letters to newspaper editors, environmental groups and government officials. Later in his life, he testified before Congress to plead the case for preserving the nation's imperiled wild places and the life they supported.  


In 1980, Ansel Adams was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter, which recognizes the activist’s foresight and fortitude in saving America’s wild lands. Following Adams’ death in 1984, Congress expanded the Minarets Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada and renamed it the Ansel Adams Wilderness.  This expanse of over 200,000 acres honors the renowned photographer by preserving the wilderness he loved so much.

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