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Thread: Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

  1. #1
    Stephen Willard's Avatar
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    Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

    I have endured many weeks of a particular nagging thought like one of those melodies that runs repeatedly in your mind over and over again and you are unable escape from its repetitions. It was not until I was leafing through my new book Ansel Adams at 100 did I decided to to shed this thought and ponder its answer. It really is not a thought, but rather a question of why. Why Moonrise over Hernandez? In particular, why was Moonrise over Hernandez Adam's most sold print?

    I could think of a countless photographs from his body of work that are far more powerful and vivid then Moonrise over Hernandez. There is El Capitain, Aspens, Clearing Winter Storm, Mount Williamson, Heaven’s Peak, Autumn Tree Against Cathedral Rocks, Mount Mckinley and Wonder Lake, Wanda Lake, Lake and Cliffs, or Overlooking the Snake River Toward the Tetons.

    So I pose this question to the intelligence of this community of artist photographers in hopes of finding an answer that will put my nagging thought of why to rest.

    Why do you think Moonrise over Hernandez was Adam's most sold print?

  2. #2
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

    Stephen,

    I think your question is fair – and I hope we can all acknowledge at once that “units sold” does not (necessarily) indicate “quality achieved.”

    And like all good questions, yours quickly raises others that may help amplify it, including:

    1) Was "Moonrise" promoted or sold any differently than other AA photos?
    2) Has the long-lived popular taste influenced, or reinforced critical taste, and vice versa?
    3) Might future popular taste for “Moonrise” decline, and taste for the other AA photos grow?
    4) Have other master-photographers consistently admired one or two AA photos, like this one?

    I don't possess a strong enough background in marketing (or photographic history) to address your question directly, but I do look forward to learning more from the best answers in this thread.

  3. #3

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    Re: Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Willard View Post
    Why do you think Moonrise over Hernandez was Adam's most sold print?
    No idea, really. Maybe he sold it cheaper than anything else?

  4. #4
    kev curry's Avatar
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    Re: Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

    When seen as a 20x24'' print in the flesh, it really is truly spectacular. Just thought I'd say that

  5. #5
    Claudio Santambrogio
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    Re: Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Willard View Post
    Why do you think Moonrise over Hernandez was Adam's most sold print?
    It was? I remember that when I first learned of Adam's work, it were other photographs I saw. Only quite some time later I saw (a reproduction) of the moonrise. And yet later I learned that the moonrise was a "famous" shot… It needs to be said that it has a very "easy" appeal - you can't negate the "ohhh, a moonrise…" effect on the average viewer. Have to say it caught even me when I first saw it.

  6. #6
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

    There’s also AA’s thrilling story about taking “Moonrise” (he couldn't find his meter; see The Negative, Chapter 6), and I’m curious if that may have added to its “sales appeal” – did a promotional effort ever make use of this story?

    Or maybe this is a case where sales are, simply, due to a magnificent photo w/ broad appeal.

    That is, it may have “sold itself.”

  7. #7

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    Re: Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

    It's always been my favorite image of Mr. Adams. It's just a gut emotional reaction. The one element that is so different about this image over his other work is the human element of the buildings and cemetery. For my answer it has to do with the presence of the human element, and the universal cycle of sunset and moon rise.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  8. #8
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    Re: Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

    Why did Michael Jackson's Thriller sell over 100 million copies ?

    There are countless reasons. You might say 110 million reasons. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

    Understanding this sort of thing, is like "understanding" the Stock Market. It can't be grasped.

  9. #9

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    Re: Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

    The (this) viewer is immediately struck with his own sense of mortality in a remote and indifferent universe. That being said I've always been tickled that AA's most famous photo was as much of a 'snapshot' as you can get with an 8x10 camera and decades of creative intuition.

  10. #10

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    Re: Why Moonrise over Hernandez?

    When I was a younger snot, I was stationed in Monterrey, CA. One town over was a little town called Carmel. Perhaps you've heard of it. In any case, in Carmel, there is a photography gallery that features his work. Back then, I could have purchased any one of his prints for $250.00 to $400.00. If I'm calculating inflation correctly, tha put them at around $1500.00 in 2010 dollars. On one particular visit, they had two different versions of that print exhibited side-by-side. One of them was a more recent print with the rich black sky and the moon that pops out at you. The other was a more traditional sky and the ground was burned in somewhat. They looked like two images of the same village, taken on different days. (Which, of course, begged the question--how did he get the moon to be in precisely the same spot and phase for both images?)

    The purpose of my rambling is this. BOTH prints were spectacular. The earlier print was priced $250.00 more than the more recent print BECAUSE it was earlier. Guess that was the way it was done back then. As nicely as the gallery was laid out, the pair of prints still had the effect of drawing viewers immediately to them. I was in the gallery for a while and remember commenting to a friend that accompanied me that everyone who came through the door seemed to get sucked straight over the Moonrise twins. I will die wishing I'd had enough money to buy one of his prints.
    Michael W. Graves
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    If it ain't broke....don't fix it!

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