As an aspiring photographer, I latched onto Ansel Adams’ work early in my photography journey. He has become my greatest inspiration/role-model for photography. I am forever in awe of his artistic ability and his work. Among my favorites of his photographs are his stunning photographs of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, in California. He had a true talent for making photographs, the kind of talent that seems rare these days. All this said, I was surprised to find out that he had written an autobiography, and more surprised that I hadn’t heard about it up until a month ago!
I actually spent July reading both versions of Adams’ autobiography, the paperback and the hardcover “coffee table” version. The only difference between the two is the fact that the hardcover features a great deal more photographs and is of far better quality. The paperback is a great option for those who want a book that can be easily held in your hands and one that you can carry with you with ease, while the hardcover is a must have for diehard fans who want the information housed in a book of excellent quality and to peruse the accompanying photographs while reading through the chapters. The hardcover is one you’ll want to leave out on a table or stand for guests to look through. The reader can choose which one fits their needs/wants best.
This book is extremely well written and has stayed true to Ansel Adams’ personal style and voice. You are immediately struck by the sheer intelligence Adams’ possesses. He is a well-rounded, cultured, learned individual. I found his life story absolutely fascinating and inspiring. He holds nothing back and gets very candid in his autobiography. He makes no effort to sugar coat things and you get the feeling that he has painstakingly made sure to speak the truth of his life. The chapters are arranged, not chronologically, but are organized under categories that are named for important periods, places, and people in his life.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about his background history and his childhood/education, which spans the first four chapters. Adams had a fascinating and unconventional education, one that will leave you with envy. He devotes several chapters to particular people who have had a great influence on him, such as Stieglitz & O’Keefe (chapter 10), Edward Weston (chapter 16), and The Newhalls (chapter 14), along with places such as Yosemite (chapter 5), The Sierra (chapter 11), and Carmel (chapter 21).
This is a book that you will not be able to put down. I just couldn’t read enough! Far from dry and boring, this autobiography reads like a superbly interesting, animated conversation. I was thoroughly impressed with Adams’ honesty, wit, humor, and intelligence. I would HIGHLY recommend this book to Adams’ fans, photography fans in general, and those readers looking for a great autobiography to read. You will definitely not be disappointed. I find myself already wanting to read it again, and predict that this will be a multiple read for me.
I give this book a 9/10.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....