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Tuesday, 06 April 2010


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Damn, I love a good story... :-)

Jim, I wonder if for those middle-aged Japanese tourists Adams represented another kind of understanding, after his careful and caring work on Born Free And Equal?

Hi Jim,

My father was a professional photographer and I grew up in a studio. He never turned down a willing student and taught photography for years. Nevertheless, Ansel Adams is the reason that I take photographs today. Thank you for this appreciation.

Chris Lane

We can all ways use a lesson in the gentlemanly arts, including patience and graciousness. Thanks for the instructions, both of you.


Beautiful story that made me a little bit teary eyed, and a wonderful photo to go with it. Sounds like Ansel Adams is an exception to the rule, "Never meet your heroes."

Jim, your story captured a beautiful moment. Thank you for sharing it.

Do they still make gentlemen like Ansel Adams? Or rather, are we, in our busy world, capable of such gracious behaviour? Food for thought.

Jim, beautiful note - thanks.

Wow, what a difference between the reactions of Mr. Adams and Mr. Cartier-Bresson (in his case, going postal on a photographer that snapped his pic, as described on the website a few weeks ago).

Fantastic story. If I recall correctly, Adams was a classical pianist of considerable talent, and that was his intended career path before photography got in the way.

And my story is quite different. He came to a gallery in Washington, D.C., probably in 1979, '80, or '81. I went to meet him. The crowd was very small, then, I was it. He was escorted to me by the owner of the gallery. We shook hands and I literally stood in awe, not uttering a word as we shook hands. "I am Ansel Adams," he said. "I know," I answered. The gallery owner turned to Adams and said, "And you said they wouldn't know you." They turned and walked away. I recovered a few seconds later. It was worth it, a poor performance by me, but one I hope he took as sincere respect.

Adams' gentle and lovely personality comes through in his Autobiography. I hear tell that if you click through from here to Amazon on your way to buy it, TOP benefits.

What a wonderful story. :)

I've been thumbing through Ansel's book "The Negative" last few weeks as I still shoot some B&W film trying to absorb a fraction of what this man mastered. Knowing he was a gentleman and all around good guy can't help but add my respect to his legacy. I can almost here him talk as I read. As mentioned above my feelings towards Mr. Bresson's total hissy fit over having his photo snapped does the opposite for me regarding his legacy. When I see one of his photos I tend now to picture a grouchy old crank.

Great tale Jim, a nice counter-point to Mike's past comments on not meeting your heros as they'll only disappoint!

A wonderful personal anecdote of your encounter with Ansel, Jim. And yours, too, R. Edelman and Al Marsh! A nice change of pace, and back to base, from the immediately previous threads.

Mr. Adams mastered "The Golden Rule" too. Lovely story, thanks for sharing.

I tend now to picture a grouchy old crank.

Or a cranky old grouch?


Wow! Thanks for sharing that great moment with us. While reading my mind created the setting and how wonderful that time must have been. Makes me think that Ansel Adams view of the world as a beautiful place did not end with the camera, but was the entire essence of the man.


Thanks, makes my heart beat a little bit faster :)
It is my experience that most successful photographers are very nice people. This story adds a great deal to my point :)

What a great place TOP is. Thank you so much, everyone, for making this a special place, not just to kill time, but to think and grow.

Love the first-hand stories.

Adams was important to me, even without seeing any of his prints in my formative years. I learned huge amounts from his basic photo series, and second the recommendation for his Autobiography. I'll add one for Examples, in which he reproduces 40 of his photos (including famous ones) and writes as much as he remembers about the thought process he went through in shooting, developing, and printing them.

I'm now annoyed at not having bought any prints from him, and not having worked harder to manage to meet him.

"I'm now annoyed at not having bought any prints from him, and not having worked harder to manage to meet him."

You think that's bad, in the late '90s I met one of the photographers I admire, Leonard Freed, when he was trying to sell leftover copies of all his books at the photo show in New York. I didn't have the money to buy the books, which he was selling for very reasonable prices ($70-150) compared to what one would have to pay for them on the open market. We talked for quite some time, and he invited me to come visit him at his house in upstate New York. I was pleased and honored.

I always "meant to." But of course I didn't. And then he died, in 2006. Opportunity lost forever....


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