Adams and the Gipper ...

(from my Photography class this semester)

I like Ansel Adams photography as I think promoting the beauty of nature is probably one of – if not THE – most important tasks a photographer can help promote, especially in these days of accelerated climate change and environmental erosion. Adams in this way is VERY relevant to the current world because what he has saved of the natural world shapes the very earth we walk on.

Adams was a board member of the Sierra Club for 37 years – as such he was a force for promoting the then budding ‘nature tourism’ industries and was a tireless promoter environmental protection. His political work as such had great impact and he used his personality and fame to court government officials – including presidents – and change public policy for the better saving some of our most precious natural resources. Because of this in 1980 he was awarded the National Medal of Freedom from then President Jimmy Carter.

When I think of Ansel Adams I also think of former President Ronald Reagan - I know this may seem strange but hear me out. The reason I think this is that the verbal sparring between the two literally shaped the land we Americans now live on for better or worst – especially when it comes to the landscape of California. If you think of the great parks we have here in California they were literally a compromise that then President Gerald Ford struck between the environmental saving wants of Adams and the then Governor of California Ronald Reagan’s wish to further industrialize the area. Later in when Reagan was president, Adams meeting with him was fraught with tension and his criticisms of Reagan was repeated world-wide in various publications of the time eventually leading to a softening in then Secretary of the Interior James Watt’s relentless industrialization and privatization of wildlife areas.

And as much as the conservative in me is a fan of ‘The Gipper’ the nature-lover in me is also a fan of Ansel Adams for counteracting the more negative and rapacious aspects of Capitalism.


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