With cameras strapped to his shoulders, Michael Adams trekked the back-country of Yosemite National Park throughout his boyhood in the 1940s, alongside his father, legendary photographer Ansel Adams.
Photographers came from all over the world to experience the beauty of the park, and learn about its grandeur through its greatest known guide. Adams was happy just to be walking besides his father and other great photographers, even with the cumbersome wooden tripods, and camera lenses, he recalled in a recent interview.
“Ansel never pushed me to be a photographer, but during his photography workshops I carried his gear through places in Yosemite like the beautiful high country of Tuolumne Meadows. It was so peaceful there with my father and the students.”Even at a young age, Adams, 73, knew he was learning about something larger than photography, and today he works to continue that feeling by devoting his life to the preservation of his father’s legacy–and the land that guided it: Yosemite National Park.
Known as one of the world’s greatest environmentalist photographers, Ansel, with his family, lived by the park and devoted countless hours to preserving its environs as an active member of the Sierra Club Board of Directors for 37 years. After his death in 1984, his family continued to operate the Ansel Adams Gallery in the heart of Yosemite National Park to “to encourage the values, efforts, and sense of awe that Ansel held and personified.”
Recently, Adams, a retired internist, has traveled across the country to lecture in galleries about his childhood memories as his father’s photographic assistant. He lectures in the hope to introduce the next generation to “the wonderful contemporary and historic experience of the Ansel Adams Gallery and the beauty of his homeland.”
Adams hopes that his educational efforts at the gallery and throughout Yosemite and the United States help combat decreasing tourism to the park. “Unfortunately,” says Adams, “tourism is down in Yosemite.” He attributes the decrease to 9/11 and to “gas prices, floods in the 1990s that destroyed many cabins for tourists, and road problems due to rock slides.”
Adams, also works to bring photography workshops to the park and he helped organize bus trips into Yosemite for inner city kids with the Yosemite Institute. His greatest hope is that others will continue to enjoy the land that he still returns to again and again.
“I keep returning to Tuolumne because it is so peaceful and full of memories.”
he says. “That high back country is so…beautiful.”
By Jessica Reinis for PeterGreenberg.com
Photo credit: Ansel Adams Gallery
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