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Thread: Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

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    Serious Amateur Photographer pepeguitarra's Avatar
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    Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

    This is not just another video about Ansel Adams, it is one that looks at the man first. I wonder so many times why some are very good at something, and others are not, even if the try hard. This video will make you think. What do you think? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvt1ImIKi0U&t=351s
    "I have never in my life made music for money or fame. God walks out of the room when you are thinking about money." -- Quincy Jones

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    Re: Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

    " I wonder so many times why some are very good at something, and others are not, even if the try hard. "

    Such is the nature of Life.

    Look at Tom Brady in football. Joe Lewis and Sugar Ray Robinson in boxing. John Smith in international Freestyle wrestling. Itzhak Perlman with the Violin - and many others in nearly every field.

    All work at it no matter how much they are blessed with talent. Every field has a number of people who are actually more talented who won't put in the work needed.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

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    Serious Amateur Photographer pepeguitarra's Avatar
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    Re: Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

    This video is by his biographer. There were things in the life of Adams that would have deter a lot of people. One of those is that photography was not establish as a profession, and he had a hard time trying to make ends meet, pay the rent, or even get $100 to spend in a trip. That is why he had to work 7 days a week, every week of the year with no vacation, or rest. He refused the pictorialism (which seems to be what many current landscape photographers do nowadays) and chose to work in the art part of it, trying to show what he saw and felt at the time the painting was taken. He and Ed Weston were criticized by other photographers who said, that the world is falling apart (1930s depression) while Adams and Weston are photographing trees and rocks. Adams thought about documentary photography as being propaganda. He worked on the environment when almost nobody was working on it. He was ahead of the curve, at the end, the environment was one of the largest issues of the XX Century. That is what makes him amazing.
    "I have never in my life made music for money or fame. God walks out of the room when you are thinking about money." -- Quincy Jones

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    Re: Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

    Pablo Casals, in his 80's, did scales every morning. He also played through all of the Bach solo cello suites. My Emmy-award winning cellist friend Eugene Friesen said "All? One is a meat grinder." He does an hour or so of scales every morning, too. The best have a work ethic the rest of us mere mortals cannot comprehend.
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

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    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

    Jimi Hendrix also played guitar constantly.

    I even saw him play once...

    Not everybody wants to be Icarus
    sin eater

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    Serious Amateur Photographer pepeguitarra's Avatar
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    Re: Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

    What do you think of the comments at the almost end of the video where the biographers commented that after age 61 he started to slow down, like he has lost the drive. He continued working and making photos, but not any important one. One of the commenters said: it is based on stamina......! DO YOU AGREE?
    "I have never in my life made music for money or fame. God walks out of the room when you are thinking about money." -- Quincy Jones

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    Serious Amateur Photographer pepeguitarra's Avatar
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    Re: Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

    Adams was actually 70 when he finally got some financial stability. Thanks to one of his students that turned him into the most marketed photographer in the world. There is still hope for many.
    "I have never in my life made music for money or fame. God walks out of the room when you are thinking about money." -- Quincy Jones

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    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

    Quote Originally Posted by pepeguitarra View Post
    This video is by his biographer. There were things in the life of Adams that would have deter a lot of people. One of those is that photography was not establish as a profession, and he had a hard time trying to make ends meet, pay the rent, or even get $100 to spend in a trip. That is why he had to work 7 days a week, every week of the year with no vacation, or rest. He refused the pictorialism (which seems to be what many current landscape photographers do nowadays) and chose to work in the art part of it, trying to show what he saw and felt at the time the painting was taken. He and Ed Weston were criticized by other photographers who said, that the world is falling apart (1930s depression) while Adams and Weston are photographing trees and rocks. Adams thought about documentary photography as being propaganda. He worked on the environment when almost nobody was working on it. He was ahead of the curve, at the end, the environment was one of the largest issues of the XX Century. That is what makes him amazing.
    AA wasn't very good at pictorialism, so it was wise of him to move along to other styles which he was good at and were suited for his purposes.

    Another interesting dead and poor photographer willing to go the extra mile, change styles as needed, and didn't know how to rest might be Edward S Curtis. Several nice books about his life.

    As to the original question I am comfortable and even confident in the idea that some people are naturally well or gifted in certain activities and no amount of practice is a substitute. Practice will advance those gifted and ungifted further. In addition to practice, I also am confident that non-artistic activities such as physical exercise will improve our mind in art whether that be view camera or piano or whatever else we do.

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    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

    AA was a hard-working competent businessman and commercial photographer; raised a family, paid his bills, lived in very desirable neighborhoods, hung out with snooty society. He certainly wasn't poor.The art side of it allegedly didn't become a serious positive financial asset until he was elderly, even though he was highly recognized for decades.

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    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Ansel Adams, a prodigy?

    One of the Minor White bios speaks of AA as working (teaching) just enough to be able to return to nature with camera whenever possible. I wouldn't expect any artist biographer to be able to make business or financial judgement about whom they write. AA certainly hung out with the right people.

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