Please consider downloading the latest version of Internet Explorer
to experience this site as intended.
Tools Search Main Menu

When Ansel Adams came to Rochester

August 24, 2016

As the National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, many remember photographer Ansel Adams for his iconic images of the American West and Yosemite National Park.

But when Adams was hired to photograph the University campus in 1952, he was not yet America’s most well-known photographer. Unable to make a good living as a nature photographer, he spent much of his early career as a commercial journeyman.

His Rochester assignment was to create photos for “Creative Change,” a promotional booklet that aimed to raise money to support the consolidation of the men’s and women’s colleges; at that time, the women were still housed on the old Prince Street Campus, now the site of the Memorial Art Gallery.

Adams came to Rochester through the friendship he formed with Beaumont Newhall, the curator of photography at the George Eastman House, and his wife, Nancy.

Andrew Wolfe, then assistant to the head of Development at the University, turned to Newhall to help him find a local photographer who would be able to put together a promotional booklet that would help the fundraising effort. Nancy Newhall recommended that they ask Adams if he would like the job.

Adams spent a month on campus, photographing buildings and creating portraits of students and faculty. One shot in particular, of J. Edward Hoffmeister, a professor of geology who was also dean of the College, at Letchworth State Park included the depth-of-field method that made Adams’s nature photography famous.

Adams ended up working on all aspects of “Creative Change,” including design, layout, and subject matter. The booklet was so successful that two shorter brochures, one aimed at the Rochester community and the other at University alumni, were created using Adams’s work.

Tags: ,

Category: The Arts