Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ansel Adams: An Autobiography” as Want to Read:
Ansel Adams: An Autobiography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Ansel Adams: An Autobiography

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  303 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In this bestselling autobiography, completed shortly before his death in 1984, Ansel Adams looks back at his legendary six-decade career as a conservationist, teacher, musician, and, above all, photographer. Written with characteristic warmth, vigor, and wit, this fascinating account brings to life the infectious enthusiasms, fervent battles, and bountiful friendships of a ...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published February 1st 1996 by Ansel Adams (first published 1985)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ansel Adams, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ansel Adams

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 608)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
George Martzen
This is a great read. Having grown up in photography in central California, I grew up hearing about Adams and admired his work. It wasn't until after his dead, when my father and I viewed an exhibit of his prints that I understand why he referred the print as a performance. I stood entranced watching the details in a large print of "Moonrise over Hernandez". In this book he shares his love of performance, both the visual and musical.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially the opening chapters on Adams' unusual childhood. He stumbled upon art and nature--his passion and practical drive carried him through as he abandoned a career in music for photography. He was a man of principle, standing up for racial equality and the protection of the environment, but he was not an idealogue. I was particularly moved by his work on the Manzana detention center for Japanese Americans. He published this series at the tail end of the war, ...more
Mar 13, 2007 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone that loves Ansel Adams' photography
I really enjoyed reading about Ansel's life from his perspective. He's such a sensitive and creative individual-- and I adore him! I learned that he was piano virtuoso, and I felt an even greater bond with him once I knew he loved music as well as photography. Its a great read- exciting and chocked full of real life obstacles and explorations.
Suzie Raquel
The plain language used to tell such an unusual life story helps you feel welcomed into his life. He had such a generous nature, yet incredibly disciplined and ethical. It also helped me fit together pieces of an important era of analog photography, and learn more about those who championed it as an art form.
Ansel Adams seemed like he was really down to earth and an overall good guy. I would have liked to have met him...I would have liked to study photography with him....that would have been amazing! If you are interested in his life, thoughts, and photographic processes, this is a good book to read.
Eric Seifert
Interesting read, lots of insight into the photographic process. Ansel led a full, illustrious and humourus life.
Jim Parker
I read this book about ten years ago and the book gives wonderful insight to this great photographer and his work.
Devon Barone
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area and taking relatively frequent trips to the Sierra Nevada, including Yosemite National Park, Ansel Adams was somewhat of a household name for my family and me. I’ve always admired his uniquely enchanting photographs of some of the natural wonders that I hold so dear, so reading about his amazing life was wonderful.
Ansel Adams had a very interesting childhood, which he remembers remarkably well. He could remember even his earliest days perfectly, and desc
Feb 16, 2008 Eric rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who care about semi-obscure though once self-important socialites
Shelves: other
Note: I'm not done yet. But I'll simulcast this from here:

I requested a biography on someone interesting for Christmas. My mother, in her infinite wisdom, selected Ansel Adams - a seemingly perfect choice for an occasional photographer.

How could she have known how boring he was! I mean, I guess traveling across the United States with since forgotten self-important artists and other assorted social gadflies was interesting at the time, but now, I don't particular
Terry Cornell
I knew somewhat about Ansel Adams the photographer and environmentalist, but didn't know about his talent as a musician, wordsmith and humorist. I worried it might be too technical regarding some of the photography, but it is as advertised--an autobiography.
Aaron Morton
Two things made an impression on me in this book:

1) Ansel's nose was broken by the 1906 earthquake.
2) Ansel never imagined and purposed his photos to be the poster images for conservation. He simply captured beauty.

I was disappointed photos weren't included in the book. Especially when he mentions specific photos and the context...and no photo to see. Boo.

Other than that, I found it a little dry. But hey, he was a nature photographer and proponent, not an action hero.
It's a bit disappointing. I was hoping to find something of Ansel Adams wisdom and experience in life but instead there was something that seemed more as history of records of some of his life marks. It's over detailed about the letters and messages between him and his friends. Moreover, it's divided into 23 sections mostly titled by the names of the people he have known. It doesn't follow a chronological order and I actually think it's a mess.
Christina knox
ansel adams is such a babe. there is this one part in here where he's at this party and some god awful woman is all,

"i assume you've been awl auva europe"
"no infact, i've never been to europe"
"well, if you had been to europe, where would your favorite places be"

yeah. i dunno. climbing sierras, ragging on pictoralists and everything else you'd expect from this genius of no bullshit beauty.
Peri Ann
Really good, and really good writing!

pg 25-26
" I believe we are born with an incredible program for our life to be, tucked away in a small cranium and pressing to grow and function. I have often had a retrospective vision where everything in my past life seems to fall with significance into logical sequence. "
Have an Ansel Adams photography exhibition at museum & so was curious to learn about his life/ his art. Neat to read how he adapted photos to fit the image in his head, manipulating exposures & development. If you enjoy biographies, especially of artists, I recommend this.
Very interesting - especially to learn his love of the environment and just how difficult it was to get a good photo back then. Lots of planning so that you didn't waste supplies. Much, much different then the digital era of snap and delete.
I did not learn how to take great photos, but I may have learned better how to see the world. It's a great and beautiful autobiography and occupies a treasured place on my selves.
Aug 23, 2010 Jason added it
Ansel was also an accomplished pianist and quite the bohemian / artist, interacting and exchanging information and ideas with the leading photographers of his time.
Another interesting look at the celebrities of the 30's and 40's and the growth of the environmental movement. Lots of stories about the artists of his time.
Chrisg Gerstner
As much as I wanted to, I could not get through this book - not the fascinating biography that I was expecting.
Feb 01, 2009 Krista added it
This is great. Very funny and well written. Wonderful stories about his life.
Bob Peru
hero. i actually like his writing more'n his pics.
Probably best to read a biography instead.
Has great details on adam's life!
Cyberfaust marked it as to-read
Jan 23, 2015
Amanda Quental
Amanda Quental marked it as to-read
Jan 22, 2015
Jeremy Hopkins
Jeremy Hopkins marked it as to-read
Jan 20, 2015
Chris added it
Jan 15, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 21 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Slightly Out of Focus
  • On Being a Photographer: a Practical Guide
  • Unreasonable Behaviour: An Autobiography
  • Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography
  • Why People Photograph
  • Ansel Adams at 100
  • Man's Rise to Civilization: The Cultural Ascent of the Indians of North America
  • Hole in the Sky: A Memoir
  • Creative Nature and Outdoor Photography
  • Living by Fiction
  • Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America
  • Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had
  • Walker Evans: American Photographs
  • The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression
  • Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision
  • Of Walking in Ice: Munich-Paris, 11/23 to 12/14, 1974
  • Lee Miller: A Life
  • Style and Idea: Selected Writings
Though wilderness and the environment were his grand passions, photography was his calling, his metier, his raison d'etre.

From: Ansel Adams, Photographer
More about Ansel Adams...
The Camera (Ansel Adams Photography, #1) Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs The Negative (Ansel Adams Photography, #2) The Print (Ansel Adams Photography, #3) Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs

Share This Book