Ansel Adams: Portrait of the "Board of Directors"

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by larry_golfer|3, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. Someone asked me to do a company staff portrait in the style of an Ansel Adams portrait or set of portraits of some company's board of directors. For the life of me, I cannot find these photos online. Can anyone who knows these photos, if they exist, point me to where I can see them? I think this person is thinking of another photographer's style, maybe Richard Avedon, but please let me know if you know anything about this. Thanks.
  2. I think your friend has the wrong person. AA was never know for his portraits, and Richard Avedon did almost exclusively portraits.
  3. Although A.A. is much better known for his landscapes, he did do a bit of portrait work. Mostly his Sierra Club friends and a few wealthy families in the San Fran area, I think.
    Here's one of his better known portraits.
    I can't seem to locate my copy of The Negative right now, but I seem to remember him talking about portraits in several different sections and a few examples are in the book.
    Although I would agree that the person requesting his style is probably thinking about someone else.
  4. Thanks Cory and Micahel...I think we've nailed it down to something Adams did in the book The Negative and we are tracking down a copy now.
  5. People often refer to such things and you really have to nail them down as to what the mean. You can think it is a deep request when all it is is "shoot in black and white"!
  6. John, do all requests on this forum have to be "deep"? I thought it was clear all I was looking for was a reference or link to a specific photo or set of photos Adams did of a company's staff or board of directors. I only meant something he had done. Sorr-ee I said something about Adams' "style". Others responses were more civil.
  7. To many none photographers Ansel Adams is the only name of a famous photographer they know, but here's one of Adams portraits, I doubt if this is what they really want.
  8. Adams was quite well known as a portrait photographer, and supported himself and his family mainly through commercial work until sometime in the 1970's. The portrait work, unless used in advertising is not at all well known as the rights to the commercial photographs belong to the clients, and not Adams. Adams had major clients, such as Bank of America, large power companies, and smaller operations such as Varian Associates:
    An extensive Google search might turn up more. Good luck!
  9. Larry, how was my response mean? Seriously, I have just been doing this thing for a long time and when I used to get such requests, I would get very stressed out trying to figure out what they meant and often it is just something very simple as I suggested above. I was trying to share my experience.
    Your question appeared to be general and the images in The Negative are not board of directors shots, although there is a guy in a suit--and not really lit very well (looks like available light in an office--harsh overhead lighting). I am not aware of any published portraits of the type which you speak and so took your comment as I read it, a general request to do portraits in Ansel's style. I was just sharing my experience with such requests.
    Peace, brother...
  10. Oh, and here, this might help:
    I don't know that he had a "style" for his portraits like you would find with Avedon's work. His published portraits were more opportunistic--the people he was hanging out with.
  11. John,
    Thanks...that book could be helpful...I'm just following up on our art director's request. I could come up with many other creative posings for our staff photo, but he remembered some Ansel Adams image that he wants to model our staff photo on....
  12. And that is kind of the problem. Avedon worked in a pretty standard mode, as does Timothy Greenfield-Sanders or William Coupon. Ansel didn't, so finding a specific photo will be difficult unless the AD himself sees it. Good luck.
  13. The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson has a large collection of Ansel Adams works, negatives as well as prints. Here is the contact information:
    Perhaps one of the curators could help you.
    They also have an Avadon Archive.
    For everyone else, it is a great palce to visit if you are in Tucson, AZ.
  14. "People often refer to such things and you really have to nail them down as to what the[y] mean. You can think it is a deep request when all it is is "shoot in black and white"!"
    Very true. It's easy to make assumptions about what others are asking, because we know what we would mean if we asked such a question. I once had someone try very sincerely to compliment my work by saying it looked almost as good as something from Olan Mills. Had it been a fellow photographer speaking, I would have been insulted, but this person (in their very limited experience) genuinely thought Olan Mills represented a pinnacle of photography. (Of course, maybe they were right, and that's about how good my photography is . . . )
  15. lol
    Good luck with this project Larry. I hope it works out for you. You might show the art director a variety of B&W photos that have different "affects" applied to them, and ask which is closest to what they are thinking. I've found that samples are often a good idea for clarifying what people want, and it opens up an opportunity for you to discuss the "style" of the photo a little more. Of course, I guess it depends on your situation.
  16. Ansel certainly was not known for his portraits, though he had a long term contract with Kodak and may have done something for them. I knew Ansel for about the last ten years of his life and never heard him mention portraits.
  17. I recommend a reading of Autobiography and The Making of 40 Photographs by Adams for a more definitive take on his portrait photography, and a better understanding of my earlier post in this thread.
  18. This might be the kind of thing they are looking for.
  19. You might also want to check out Yousef Karsh, who was apremiere portrait photographer in his day at

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