Born in San Francisco. He began taking photographs in the High Sierra and Yosemite Valley, with which his name is permanently associated, becoming professional in 1930. That year he published the first of many books of his photographs, Taos Pueblo. With Edward Weston and others he founded the Group f/64 in reaction against the painterly aesthetic then current. He specialized in characteristic regional landscape, particularly of the Southwest, emphasizing conservation of nature. Adams wrote numerous technical manuals, including the classic Basic Photo-Books series, and helped to found the first photographic art department of a museum at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. His book Born Free and Equal (1944) was an effort to aid Japanese-Americans incarcerated during World War II. He began the first college department of photography (California School of Fine Art, 1946). Adams won two Guggenheim grants to photograph national parks and monuments. He published the first superb portfolio reproductions of his own and others' photographs.
See aperture monograph (1972); Mary S. Alinder and Andrea G. Stillman, ed., Ansel Adams: Letters and Images, 1916–1984 (1988).